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Ninety-five State Reps. co-sponsor salary amendment

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

BOSTON – Ninety-five state representatives are co-sponsoring Rep. David Linsky’s Human Services Salary Reserve amendment (#259) that would provide a modest salary increase to human services workers.

The amendment would create a $28 million fund for 31,500 low-paid workers, amounting to a raise of about $17/week. Many of these employees, who provide services to one in ten vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth, have gone without an annualized salary increase over the last five years due to fixed state contracts. Direct care workers, who provide services on behalf of the state, make an average of $12 an hour, and nearly 80 percent of the jobs in the sector are filled by women.

“We’re encouraged to see these representatives standing with the human services direct care workers who do incredibly complex jobs for such low pay,” said Providers’ Council President & CEO Michael Weekes. “Our champions in the House have come through again to show unprecedented support for the human services workforce, and we look forward to seeing this amendment, which promotes fairness and job support, approved by the full House later this month.”

Other workers in the Commonwealth doing similar work continue to get state-supported annualized salary adjustments despite budget challenges. While human service workers received a small, one-time salary adjustment in a supplemental budget last year, it did not annualize into their salaries. With the rising costs of shelter, gasoline, utilities and health insurance, workers need a modest adjustment.

“We must ensure that our staff members – many of whom may be a paycheck or two away from needing assistance themselves – are paid a fair and decent wage,” Weekes added. “These employees provide essential care to our state’s most vulnerable residents, in addition to living in our communities and boosting their local economies. This is the right step to help the helpers who care for our friends and neighbors and contribute to building stronger communities in Massachusetts.”

Workers have rallied for the salary adjustment in recent weeks. On April 2, Lisa Carriere, a developmental specialist at NuPath, Inc. who lives in Lowell with her husband and two children, spoke at The Caring Force rally at the State House about her family’s experience. “We are not ‘Making it in Massachusetts.’ Life has hit us hard, and the fallout is ugly. … It is vital [the sector] employ quality staff and [is] able to keep these staff at a rate of pay commensurate with the valuable service we provide.”

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.