ALBANY – More than 1,000 New Yorkers came to the state Capitol on March 25th in a final push to have Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature include living wage funding for direct care workers in the final state budget.
At a shoulder-to-shoulder rally in the 2nd Floor War Room, Counsel to the Governor Alphonso David told the crowd the Governor would not accept a budget that doesn’t increase wages for direct care workers.
Democrat and Republican legislators from both the Senate and Assembly also spoke, including Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee Chairman David Carlucci (D-Rockland), Assembly Mental Health Committee Chairwoman Aileen Gunther (D-Orange) – both speaking on behalf of the Legislature’s majorities, and Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan (R-Nassau).
While details remain to be worked out, the events mean the Governor, Senate, and Assembly all agree to fund a wage increase for direct support professionals (DSPs), the trained professionals who support New Yorkers on the Autism Spectrum, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and other developmental disabilities.
People with developmental disabilities and the workers who support them are in crisis due to the inability of non-profit agencies to pay workers a living wage. Ninety percent of the non-profits’ funding comes from government. Direct care workers are 73 percent women and 55 percent black or Latino.
Due to a lack of state funding, non-profits in this field are losing workers to fast food and big-box stores that can pay better wages for easier work. Non-profits took over primary responsibility for this work, at the state’s behest, after the Willowbrook scandal of the 1970s, where residents were living in inhumane conditions in a state facility.
When fully implemented, the living wage for a DSP would be roughly $15.50/hour upstate and roughly $17.80/hour in New York City.
#bFair2DirectCare members include:
Alliance of Long Island Agencies (ALIA)
Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State (CP of NYS)
The Developmental Disability Alliance of Western New York (DDAWNY)
Direct Support Professional Alliance of New York State (DSPANYS)
The InterAgency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies (IAC)
The New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation
New York Association of Emerging & Multicultural Providers
The Arc New York
National Association of Direct Support Professionals (NADSP)
Self-Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS)