Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Missouri voters passed Proposition B, which establishes the Missouri Quality Home Care Council. The council will be granted the authority to recommend standards and wage rates for home-care workers and recruit more people to the field.

Home-care attendants are currently regulated by both the Department of Health and the Department of Social Services. Under the proposition, a sole statewide bargaining agent will be created by a majority vote of home-care workers. Although home-care attendants will be able to collectively bargain, the proposition bans them from striking.

Critics called the measure an attempt to unionize home health-care workers. "We're taking a group of people and turning them over to a private group. It's bad business," said Mary Shantz, executive director of the Missouri Alliance for Home Care.

According to an interview with The Associated Press, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry has questioned the initiative, though it said it is still evaluating how to respond to it. The chamber said in a statement that the proposal would allow unionization if 10 percent of the workers expressed a desire to organize, well below the 30 percent generally required to vote for unionizing.

The chamber said it wants voters to be aware that "a seemingly innocent November ballot initiative contains potentially harmful language that could greatly increase health-care costs for the state and private providers."

Proponents see the proposition as a way to get better working conditions for home-care attendants. Richard Blakley, executive director of the Disabled Citizens Alliance for Independence, said "the point is to have someone to bargain with the state. We're looking for a mechanism to help get higher wages."

The Missouri Quality Home Care Council will consist of 11 members appointed by the governor, five from the Department of Health and Senior Services, the Missouri Centers for Independent Living, and the governor's advisory councils on aging and disabilities.

The other six are people who have used home-care services from Consumer Directed Services. A ballot summary estimates the cost of the council at $510,560 a year.


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