SALEM, Ore.– Home care workers protested on Thursday on what they call ‘systemic problems’ with state paychecks. Some 50 workers gathered in front of the Oregon Department of Human Services Headquarters to share stories and turn in hundreds of letters with workers describing paychecks arriving too late to pay their bills.
According to Rebecca Sandoval, a local of Medford and Vice President of Service Employees International Union Local 503, home care workers feel disrespected by the state with every late paycheck.
For these workers, missing a paycheck can sometimes mean choosing between paying bills or putting food on the table. Sandoval says over 50 percent of home care workers in Oregon live paycheck to paycheck.
Home care workers fall under the Aging and People with Disabilities program. The other program, comparatively, is the Office of Developmental Disabilities Services system for personal support workers. The two programs fall under the Oregon DHS. However, Sandoval says one of the main reasons for these late paychecks is due to an outdated payroll system that the Office of Developmental Disabilities Services doesn’t have.
Oregon DHS provided data from 2018 that showed for home care workers 416,704 payments were issued. Of that number 2.2 percent or 9,089 of those payments were late.
For personal support workers, 729,527 payments in 2018 were issued with only .0007 percent or 483 late payments. Home care workers say over 9,000 late payments is too many.
“You have to make huge choices about what you can even afford in terms of the bare necessities and so when that paycheck doesn’t show up it throws everybody’s budget right out the window,” said Sandoval.
Home care workers say DHS does correct any errors and covers any bank fees but sometimes it’s still too late.
DHS and the union do meet often to work through these issues. The union says they are meeting for bargaining discussions next week where they hope they can reach a resolution that resolves the payroll system that is a large part of the problem.