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Home care workers demanding a change in pay

Advocates say said low wages make it difficult to attract and retain home care workers.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Home care workers in Western New York are demanding a change.

That was the goal of a protest Monday night held at St Luke's United Church of Christ in hopes to get home health aides a permanent boost in pay. They're asking Gov. Kathy Hochul to include it in her state budget.

Advocates say said low wages make it difficult to attract and retain home care workers and that it's time to treat essential workers with the dignity and respect they deserve. They also said a wage boost would be a major step forward in addressing income inequality. 

"It was the budget, we need fair pay you know. So I can get back and forth to work and help other clients. I love what I do," Ticonchia Gemison, a Personal Care Assistant said.

"The reason I'm sitting in front of this microphone talking to you today is because my aid came to work to help me get ready for work this morning to help me bathe. To help me get out of bed. these are the kinds of things that aides do for folks every day, so it isn't just about wages but for us, the minimum wage isn't enough for what they do. How much is your freedom worth to you?" Todd Vaarwerk uses Personal Assistant Services said. 

Right now many of them are making $13.20 an hour, according to April Ezzell, communications coordinator for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. Ezzell went on to say that if this passes, home health aides will earn 150% more than the current minimum wage in their area.

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