Coalition of Unions and Community Allies Successfully Fight Back Governor Brown’s Proposal to Drastically Slash Funding to In-Home Supportive Services
A coalition of unions, in partnership with patients and their families, leveraged its political power to defeat Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal to slash funding for In-Home Supportive Services (“IHSS”) by 7%. IHSS is a state-funded program that allows elderly, disabled, and blind persons to receive supportive services—such as housecleaning, meal preparation, and personal care—in the comfort and safety of their home.
Several unions lobbied against the Governor’s budget proposal and held rallies, press conferences, and speak-outs. Union members and patients also engaged in civil disobedience to prevent the cuts to IHSS. On Tuesday, June 12, 10 individuals were arrested for blocking the entrance to the Governor’s office. The height of the days of action came on Wednesday, when thousands of members from several unions representing IHSS workers, recipients of IHSS, and workers’ and patients’ families held an all-day rally on the lawn of the Capitol. Just after noon, hundreds of members crowded into the rotunda, and chanted, “Home care saves lives, home care saves money.” The chants echoed throughout the Capitol building. After the members had rallied for approximately an hour, law enforcement issued several dispersal orders, which were drowned out by the impassioned chants of workers. Refusing to leave the rotunda, forty-three workers, recipients of IHSS, family members, and community allies linked arms in a circle around the statue of Columbus and Queen Isabella. These forty-three activists were arrested one-by-one and processed within the Capitol building. They were released within a few hours to the cheers of their families, fellow union members, and supporters.
The rallies and civil disobedience on June 12 and 13 received widespread favorable media attention. Legislators heard the voices and felt the power of union members, IHSS recipients, and their families. Due in no small part to these union-led actions, the California legislature rejected Governor Brown’s proposed 7% cut to IHSS.
By Sean D. Graham