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Unionizing will help PCAs improve quality of care

I have been a personal care attendant (PCA) for my grandson, Elias, for nearly 10 years. He has mild-to-moderate autism, and he is my pride and joy. I need to watch Elias constantly to make sure he doesn’t wander off and I also strive to make sure he gets the care he needs.

As a home care worker, I have gone years without raises and have no health insurance. When I drive Elias to Minneapolis for doctor appointments, I am not given a mileage reimbursement.

In 2011, the legislature voted to cut my pay by 20 percent simply because I am related to Elias. After nine months the Minnesota Supreme Court voted that the cut to family caregivers was unconstitutional. While the cut has been reversed, for those nine months my pay was cut about $2 an hour. That cut was devastating, and I still haven’t been reimbursed for my missing pay.

I work hard as a PCA. My work helps the state save countless dollars that would be spent on a long-term care institution if I wasn’t there to work with Elias and keep him living independently.

PCAs should have the right to come together and fight for better wages and benefits in Minnesota. By forming a union we can improve conditions for workers, which will keep good PCAs and improve the quality of care clients receive. We should have a say in the programs that benefit us all. I ask the state legislature to give us the right to form a union. — Vicki Dewald, Detroit Lakes