In-home care rate hiked amid debate |

In-home care rate hiked amid debate

Nevada County supervisors increased the contract rate Tuesday for in-home supportive services to give homecare workers a raise, despite the protests of domestic workers union representatives.

Wouldn’t it be a setback for employees if the board voted against the increase? asked Supervisor Bruce Conklin, who seemed perplexed by the union’s opposition.

“We don’t oppose the increase going to employee wages and benefits,” said Molly Hillis, the Northern California regional coordinator for United Domestic Workers of America based in San Diego.

Hillis requested that the full 5.31 percent increase, established by the state, go to pay raises for care providers.

United Domestic executive board member Barbara Hoff supported Hillis’ opposition.

In September, the supervisors awarded Empire a $1,311,688 contract to deliver in-home care services for the elderly and disabled.

“Empire Home Medical has given us no guarantee that the proposed increase in the contract rate will be passed through to homecare workers,” according to a complaint filed by the union.

However, Phil Reinheimer, the county’s Adult and Family Services director and public guardian, said the contract increase will ensure a more reasonable working wage for homecare employees of Empire.

Reinheimer said 57 percent of the rate increase will go to employee wages, compared to the 49 percent passed on by Addus, the former contractor.

In addition, Reinheimer said Empire’s profit margin will be 3.18 percent compared to the Addus profit range of 5.81 to 6.35 percent.

Empire owner Jon Katis said entry-level workers who were paid $6.25 an hour by Addus are now making $7.12.

“The bottom line is those employees went from a four to 24 percent wage increase, depending on seniority, just for coming to work for Empire,” Katis said. “We plan to raise the bar even higher as business grows, so this is a step in the right direction.

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