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More than 130 business leaders, professionals ask state leaders to support direct care workers

Contact: Bill Yelenak
Email: byelenak@providers.org
Phone: 617-428-3637 x122 (office) | 860-919-0369 (cell)

More than 130 business leaders and professionals ask 
governor, state leaders to support direct care workers

Letter asks governor, legislative leaders to support salary reserve now

BOSTON – More than 130 business sector leaders and professionals sent a letter on Thursday to Gov. Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo asking them to insert a salary reserve for low-paid human services workers into a recently introduced supplemental budget.

The signers all serve on the boards of community-based human services organizations from the Berkshires to the Southeast and are affiliated with companies that include TD Bank, EMC Corporation, Babson Capital, Proskauer Rose LLP, Nixon Peabody LLP, BNY Mellon, Partners Healthcare, Citizens Bank, Deloitte & Touche, Massachusetts General Hospital, John Hancock Financial Services, Baystate Health Systems and Harvard Medical School. (Company names are used for employee identification only)

“Direct care workers are among the lowest-paid employees in the state, and they work in a critical sector that helps to drive the economy in the Commonwealth,” the letter reads. “In our judgment, none are more deserving than these hard working women and men who serve one in 10 residents in Massachusetts.”

More than 31,000 direct care workers in the Commonwealth make less than $40,000 per year, and these employees, who work under state contracts to provide care to our state’s most vulnerable, have not received any annualized salary increase from the state since FY 2008. A salary reserve of $28 million would mean salary increases for employees of about $18/week or 45 cents/hour.

“Before our nation’s Labor Day holiday, we are honored to have a cross-section of influential business leaders stand with direct care workers and their leaders to ask state government to give them a proper wage adjustment,” said Providers’ Council President & CEO Michael Weekes. “While state executive branch managers and other state employees received a raise this year, it is unfair to deny the same to low-paid employees who perform some of the most demanding jobs that benefit us all.”

Many board members from Family Service of Greater Boston signed the letter, including James McCoy. McCoy signed the letter because he feels direct care workers are an integral part of our state’s workforce.

“I am proud to stand with board members of human services organizations and business professionals to make this request on behalf of some of the lowest-paid employees in Massachusetts,” McCoy said. “These direct care workers have some of the most demanding jobs in the Commonwealth, and I hope our elected leaders can provide a nominal salary increase for these dedicated caregivers. This is a critical investment in the Commonwealth’s workforce.”

Family Service President and CEO Randal Rucker added that direct care workers are “the foundation of support who ensure that hundreds of thousands of residents can lead productive lives every day.” “Having yet another year of no salary reserve for this critical workforce is akin to taking a sledgehammer to the foundation of a house,” Rucker said. “At some point – without fair and equitable treatment – fractures amass, foundations strain and human potential and productivity are lost. Appropriating funds for the salary reserve is the right action to take to recognize the contributions and sacrifices this dedicated workforce has made for so long.”

The Providers’ Council and business leaders hope to see a salary reserve inserted in the supplemental budget Gov. Patrick filed last week. While the document did contain some money for human service line items, it did not allocate any funds to give salary adjustments to low-paid staff – something the Providers’ Council and other human services organizations have made a top priority.

“With a FY ’11 surplus of $460 million, we expect the administration and our Legislature to find some funding for our low-paid direct care workers,” Weekes added. “We must ensure the frontline workers who provide critical services on the state’s behalf to so many residents receive a fair wage.”

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The Providers’ Council, also known as the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers, Inc., is the largest statewide membership association for community-based organizations providing social, rehabilitation, education and health care services.

The Providers' Council, also known as the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers, Inc., is the largest statewide membership association for community-based organizations providing social, rehabilitation, education and health care services.