06/30/2016 PRESS ALERT:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mike Oxford 785-224-3865
Stephanie Woodward 585-269-9184
Susan Stahl 585-546-7510
WHAT:Demand for Relief from Destructive Department of Labor Rules
WHEN:Now! Relief is Urgently Needed
ADAPT, A NATIONAL DISABILITY RIGHTS ORGANIZATION, CALLS ON THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS RESULTING FROM DEPARTMENT OF LABOR OVERTIME RULE CHANGES
June 30, 2016 – In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on June 27th to deny certiorari in Home Care Association of America v. Weil, ADAPT – a national disability rights organization with chapters across the country – calls on the Obama administration to take immediate actions to address the disruption that the controversial labor regulation is having on attendant services for people with disabilities.
“Instead of improving the lives of attendants and attendant service users, the new regulations have actually destabilized services and reduced the take home pay of some attendants,” said Mike Oxford, an ADAPT Organizer in Topeka, KS.
Because the rule changes require attendants to be paid overtime, but no funding was provided to accompany this rule, ADAPT has found that states are cutting the hours attendants are allowed to work in order to avoid paying attendants overtime.
“The state of Texas has already capped hours at 39 ½ hours per week which is catastrophic for attendants,” said Cathy Cranston, an ADAPT organizer from Austin, TX. “Wages are so low here that attendants need every hour they can work. They need to be able to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head for themselves and, in many cases, their children.”
The problem is not limited to Texas. Many states – including Arkansas, California, and Massachusetts – have capped hours as well or placed other restrictions on attendants. Minnesota which has been fighting a caregiver shortage, has found that the DOL rule changes have intensified the problem. In Illinois the homecare workers union has already filed a claim against the Governor’s administration for unfair labor practices as a result of the cap on hours.
“This is unconscionable,” said Susan Stahl, an ADAPT organizer from Rochester, NY. “I understand that the Supreme Court may not have felt it had a reason to take this case, but ADAPT and the Disability Community warned the Obama Administration that this would happen. Instead of working with us, the Obama Administration – specifically DOL Secretary Tom Perez – railroaded these changes through leaving the body integrity and freedom of people with disabilities, and the livelihood of some attendants, as collateral damage.”
ADAPT has called on the Obama Administration to use its authority to stop these inappropriate caps on hours. “CMS could require states to address this issue as part of their approval of state requests for changes to their Medicaid program. New York just drew down $140 million in additional federal funds during the last six months and CMS did not require them to put one penny into attendant wages or payment for overtime,” said Stahl.
“This is a serious problem with the entire administration. A year ago, we went to the Department of Justice and filed a complaint about the low wages in Texas,” continued Cranston. “It has been a year and they still haven’t even contacted the complainants. Instead of looking the other way, we need the Obama Administration to take action.”