Local 2013 Fights for Fair Budget in Albany

Fifty-five members from UFCW Local 2013 headed to Albany this week to lobby representatives on the need to fund a fair budget for patients and the workers who provide their care.

The Health Care Lobby Day saw a big group of UFCW health care workers participate, including home health aides, certified nursing assistants, medication technicians, dietary workers, and housekeepers.

Alongside other UFCW and RWDSU locals, they met with legislators and staff from 23 Assembly and Senate districts, including the Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

“Many of our members rely on the state to fund their contract increases,” said Mark Carotenuto, president of UFCW Local 2013. “That’s why it’s so important that legislators hear from our members directly.”

Una Brown, Local 2013 Executive Board vice president, works as a home health aide at Americare. “I love my work, but the pay is not enough,” Brown said. “Many of my co-workers have to sign up with two or three agencies to make a living.”

In New York City, one out of every seven low wage workers are employed as a home care aide. The hourly mean wage for home health aides is approximately $10.75 per hour, or $22,360 a year, in the state.

Home health aides would see a $5,000 per year raise if hourly wages are increased to $15 per hour.

Raising wages would reduce employee turnover and lower dependence on public assistance. According to a State Senate report, 56 percent of direct care workers in New York State receive some sort of public assistance.

Local 2013 has been a strong backer of the Fight for $15 in New York State for years, participating in lobby meetings, rallies, and marching in the streets with other local unions and community groups.

But since health care reimbursements are set by the state, Carotenuto said, increases in minimum wage have to be matched with increases in Medicaid and other state programs. “The legislature needs to step up and fund an appropriate budget,” he said.