Home Care Workers Call For Wage Increase

By Linda Ong | long@kolr10.com

Published 08/28 2014 06:37PM

Updated 08/28 2014 06:43PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Home care workers statewide are calling for greater wages. According to The Missouri Home Care Union, the average wage of home care workers in the state is $8.60. Now an Ozarks lawmaker is taking up this fight for higher wages.

Consumer-directed home care services are funded through Medicaid. Home care workers help seniors and those who are disabled maintain their independence. They do everything from cooking and cleaning to personal grooming-- anything necessary to help an individual stay in their home. But many workers said they're not being paid enough.
Cartessie Johnson is torn about her job.

"I love my work," said Johnson, a home care worker.

"She does a very magnificent job. I dont know what I'd do without her," said Ulysses Calloway, who is cared for by Johnson.

But earning a little over $100 a week cooking and cleaning for Ulysses Calloway has Johnson wishing she could earn more.

"I can get my own place you know for me and my daughter," said Johnson.

Johnson is among many home care workers in Missouri who say a pay increase in necessary.

The state pays vendors of home care services $15.56 an hour. Vendors in turn, pay an average of $8.60 an hour to their workers. Home care workers are proposing an $11 an hour base wage.

Lenny Jones of The Missouri Home Care Union said the turnover rate in the home care industry is high because pay is low.

"Eleven dollars isn't too much to ask to pay to the workers so that there is enough that the vendors have to cover overhead costs," said Jones.

Rep. Charlie Norr (D-Missouri) spent some time working alongside Johnson. He's one of many legislators, faith, and community leaders who said now is the time to raise wages.

"I don't know how we can get by having people like this in the home making such a small amount of money," said Norr. "I'm going to encourage people in the general assembly and representatives to work with me to see if we can get to $11 an hour."

The Missouri Home Care Union is currently in negotiation with the Quality Home Care Council, working on a wage vendors statewide will have to pay their workers.

Until then, home care workers, like Johnson, will have to make do and see see how things pan out.
Now some of the home care service vendors we spoke to in the Springfield area said there are overhead costs on their part to consider-- like travel and administration costs.

Norr's visit was one of many throughout the state by elected, faith, and community leaders-- all to show support for an increase to home care worker wages.

They hope Governor and the Missouri Quality Home Care Council can make this wage increase happen in the next few weeks.

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