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Home care workers block Hartford street, demand better wages

February 18, 2022 GMT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Unionized home care workers and their supporters blocked a major Hartford intersection near the state Capitol on Thursday, demanding Gov. Ned Lamont allocate more funding in his proposed state budget for better wages and basic benefits, including health insurance and paid sick days.

Lt. Aaron Boisvert, a spokesperson for the Hartford Police, said 20 people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. A news release issued by the union SEIU District 1199NE said 21 people were arrested during the protest, which shut down the intersection of Capitol Avenue and Trinity, Washington and Lafayette streets.

About 10,000 workers are under contract with the state of Connecticut to provide in-home care to people in need, including the elderly and people with disabilities. The union members on Thursday described how they’ve struggled to pay bills and access health care while continuing to work during the pandemic. They’re seeking a commitment from the state to provide enough funding to eventually pay them $20 an hour, as well as health and retirement benefits.

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“I’m doing three people’s jobs, but I’m making less than minimum wage. If things don’t get better, I will have to leave and find another job,” Isaac Kolonziaa, a personal care assistant from South Windsor, said in a written statement.

A message was left seeking comment with a spokesperson for Lamont.