More than 49,000 home health care workers in one state are set to receive millions in back pay later this week, as well as pay raises going forward, according to the Associated Press.
The state of Illinois plans to release $30.7 million to the Department of Human Services — which pays the workers — on Friday.
The move comes after Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, reached an agreement with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Illinois, which represents the workers.
While personal care aides working through Illinois’ home services program were granted a 48-cent-per-hour raise back in 2017, the workers have yet to see any of that money.
Former Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, refused to grant the raises to state personal aides, who currently make $13 an hour according to the Chicago Tribune. Gov. Pritzker first agreed to pay the wage increases and back pay in March.
Low pay for aides is often cited as a contributing factor to the caregiver shortage, a crisis threatening the home-based care industry as demand for services continues to increase.
Last year, caregiver turnover reached 82% nationwide.
“These frontline workers enrich the lives of Illinois people with disabilities, many of them elderly, and save taxpayers money by keeping them in their homes instead of costlier assisted living facilities,” Comptroller Susana Mendoza said in a press release announcing the news. “They have long since earned the raise they won years ago.”
Despite the win, it wasn’t all good news for Illinois home health aides this week.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to review a petition from workers in the state seeking to recover “fair share fees,” according to Law360.
The workers previously paid the fees to cover the cost of collective bargaining by SEIU. However, more than 80,000 home health workers want the $32 million they paid back.
Representatives for the workers have argued that if nonunion workers aren’t required to pay fair share fees — per the Janus v. AFSCME ruling last year — nonunion workers who previously paid those fees should be allowed to recover them.
However, the Supreme Court’s pass means the Seventh Circuits decision stands to not to certify refunds for the workers stands.
In other words, the workers won’t be recovering the $32 million they paid in fair share fees.