During a special session of the Nassau County Legislature held on July 26, 2010 a unified and committed Democratic Legislative Caucus insisted that the $1 per hour salary raise promised to home health care workers within the Living Wage law be given to the workers. The actions of the Democratic Caucus and the members of the workers’ union ultimately persuaded the Republican legislative majority to abandon their proposal to cut the raise. “We are talking about hard working people who earn approximately $22,000 per year performing tasks that most of us would shy away from. Keeping this $1 commitment was not going to place anyone in jeopardy. It was simply the right thing to do,” said Legislator Yatauro who serves as the Democrats’ Minority Leader.
The Republican majority’s proposal to cut the $1 raise came on the heels of claims made by home health care agencies that they could not afford to implement the increase.
Legislator Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) said, “Having served as Presiding Officer in 2005 when the Living Wage Bill was passed we purposely allowed for a phase-in period of four years allowing provider agencies to prepare and we also included waivers for certain groups who met the criteria for an exemption from the Bill. We Democrats understood from the outset that the County had to honor its commitment to provide the raise. The efforts of the union membership who spoke out forcefully that were backed by steadfast support from the Democratic Caucus convinced the Republican majority to do the right thing.”
The Living Wage Law was unanimously passed by the Nassau County Legislature in 2006. The law provided for a phase-in salary increase from $9.50 per hour to $12.50. The last $1 dollar increment was scheduled to take effect August 1, 2010. Thanks to the combined efforts of union workers and the Democratic Legislators, the $1 raise will take effect as promised.
Republican opposition to allowing the final $1per hour increase faded after health care agencies failed to prove any financial hardship if the raise went through.