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Home Care Workers Protest Tardy Payroll Service

Unionized personal care attendants staged a peaceful protest in Enfield Thursday where more than a dozen were arrested for civil disobedience. Workers accuse a state-contracted organization of failing to pay their wages on time.

Personal care attendants, or PCAs, provide assistance to people who need help with daily tasks like housekeeping, cooking, and personal hygiene. And for that work, members of District 1199 New England, SEIU say they should get paid on time, every time.

But Angel Hawes says that isn’t happening. “I’m sick and tired of worrying about whether I’m going to get paid on Friday. I suffer from anxiety already, and being an essential worker during this pandemic is already stressful.”

Union members marched and blocked traffic outside Allied Community Services, which is contracted with the state to process payroll for these workers. Enfield police arrested 14 union members and staff for creating a public disturbance and disorderly conduct.

Among them was PCA Claire Martin. “I’m willing to take arrest because I can’t worry anymore if I can pay for the gas to go to work. I’m taking arrest for my clients welfare, for all the home care workers who lost their homes, their cars, maybe even their families, because no matter how hard we work, we live in poverty conditions.”

All arrested were quickly released. The contract with Allied is set to expire in June and workers say they want a different organization to take over. Attempts to reach Allied for comment went unanswered.

Nicole Leonard joined Connecticut Public Radio to cover health care after several years of reporting for newspapers. In her native state of New Jersey, she covered medical and behavioral health care, as well as arts and culture, for The Press of Atlantic City. Her work on stories about domestic violence and childhood food insecurity won awards from the New Jersey Press Association.

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