Dozens of group home workers rallied Wednesday at the Legislative Office building as the deadline for thousands more of them to walk off the job looms. They are demanding the state come up with more funding for their wages and benefits.
“These people are his support system and without them I just don’t see how they’re going to be able to function,” April Pettis said.
For a little more than two years, April Pettis said her 18-year-old son Jacob has found care and comfort at the OakHill School in Bristol.
“Jacob has autism and intermittent explosive disorder so Jacob has outbursts, he has the mentality of probably about a 2-year-old,” Pettis said.
Pettis said the staff also makes sure her son gets his medications, dresses and bathes, but come Friday some 2,000 group home caregivers are set to walk off 200 worksites if they can’t make a deal with the state for higher wages and benefits.
“Some of these workers are providing health care and can’t afford health care for themselves,” Stephanie Deceus, with the New England Health Care Employees Union said.
Deceus, with the New England Health Care Employees Union, said the workers are calling for the state to fund the Long Term Care Workers Bill of Rights, which would help clear the way for a $20 an hour minimum wage, Deceus said the average group home worker makes $14.75 an hour.
“Just to be clear with these workers, to make ends meet, they have to grab a second job, grab a third job grab a fourth job,” Deceus said.
Governor Lamont said Wednesday that he and the union continue to hold constructive talks.
“We are in active negotiations, look we got a good deal for the nurses at the nursing homes, we’re gonna try to get a really good deal for the folks at the group homes as well on the front lines taking care of people all during Covid, we’re getting close,” Lamont said.
Pettis said she supports more pay for the workers who care for her son and hopes they can come to an agreement before they walk off the job.
“It’s his safety as well as my families and everybody else’s that is at stake here,” Pettis said.