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Personal care attendants in Massachusetts demand better pay, benefits

Personal care attendants protested outside the state office building in Springfield this week. They are calling on Gov. Maura Healey to advocate for better wages and benefits for them.

Janice Guzman has been working as a personal care attendant for 20 years taking care of her mom who has dementia and Parkinson's disease. She says she wants to continue helping her mom, but her 18 dollars an hour salary is not enough for her to live on.

"We're asking for better wages, 25,[dollars per hour] paid training and retirement," she said.

Guzman and other organizers said Healey promised to address the PCA workers shortage by supporting an increase in pay during her campaign. Guzman said Healey still hasn't kept her promise.

Disability advocates, union representatives and personal care assistants also carried signs throughout the State House stopping before Healey's office to demand increased rates for the PCAs who care for seniors and those with disabilities.

The group's contract with the state expired on June 30, according to Rebecca Gutman, vice president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, who represents the workers.

The union has met four times with the PCA Workforce Council, made up of a designee of Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh as well as employers, Gutman said.

Organizers said they are hoping for a better contract when they meet with state representatives at the negotiating table on Aug. 1.

This report includes information from State House News Service.

Nirvani Williams covers socioeconomic disparities for New England Public Media, joining the news team in June 2021 through Report for America.
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