COUNCIL & 1199SEIU SIGN FIRST LABOR AGREEMENT
In November, 2008, the Workforce Council and members of 1199SEIU, the union representing PCAs, ratified the first ever labor agreement on behalf of the PCA work force. After several months of bargaining, the parties were able to agree on a three year contract that provides wage increases and puts in place structures that can begin the process of providing benefits for PCAs.
Effective July 2008, the wage for PCAs is raised from $10.84 an hour to $11.60. By the end of the three year contract, which expires in June 2011, the hourly wage earned by a PCA will be $12.48 (see sidebar on wages). The contract also provides for a committee to study options for providing health care benefits to PCAs. Once the study is completed, negotiations on the question of health benefits will begin again. The contract includes limited funds to pay for time off for some PCAs. The parties have yet to work out a formula on how to utilize these funds.
In addition to the higher wages, which should attract more people to work as PCA's, the contract upholds the original statue language of consumer control regarding hiring, training, and management of each individual consumer's PCAs. The contract also prohibits the filing of grievances against consumers by PCAs.
Members of the Council and representatives of 1199SEIU are in the process of forming a labor management committee that will continue building the type of relationship that will strengthen both the PCA workforce and benefit consumers. As Liz Casey, a member of the Council bargaining team said, "Achieving a contract for PCAs is an historic & hard-won accomplishment for caregivers and consumers. By coming together, these two groups have shown their real strength."