SEIU Local 200United Members Lobby and Join Assemblyman Weisenberg’s Call to Raise the COLA
Albany, NY—On March 12, nearly two dozen human service workers, members of Service Employees International Union Local 200United, attended Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg’s press conference in the LCA Press Room, Room 130 in the Legislative Office Building in Albany to push for raises for direct caregivers. They work at New Horizons, Ulster-Greene ARC, Vanderheyden Hall, and Community, Work & Independence (CWI), all not-for-profit human service agencies. They are some of the nearly 3,000 Local 200United members employed in direct care throughout New York State. They struggle to make ends meet while working a job they love.
“I am a professional who brings skills, education and passion to the field of serving individuals with developmental disabilities,” said Sheri Scull, Job Coach at Ulster-Greene ARC and a Local 200United member. “I work very hard for extremely low wages, less than what a 16-year-old makes at a summer job, and I’m raising children. As a result of low wages, workers leave the job to make more money elsewhere, creating high turnover. Despite the best efforts of people like me who love what they do and want to continue doing it, high turnover diminishes the quality of care to our consumers. A Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) would provide a wage increase for the workers, which is so desperately needed, and it will directly help increase the quality of care and allow the consumers to live a more fruitful life.”
Weisenberg (D-Long Beach), whose son is disabled, said the workers “provide services to some of New York’s most vulnerable citizens.”
Year in and year out SEIU Local 200United members lobby for a COLA. This year, members of both the state Assembly and state Senate have signed letters in support of a COLA, which they would like to see included in the state budget, which is supposed to be adopted by April 1. Despite those efforts, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed deferring the COLA for 2014.
The rally preceded lobby visits SEIU Local 200United members made to legislators throughout the day March 12.