Home health workers hoping to take wage fight to the ballot box

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A fight that has gone on administratively between Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and the organized labor unions representing home health workers could be headed to a ballot box near you.

On Tuesday, Jeff Mazur, executive director of the Missouri chapter of AFSCME, filed an initiative petition that would require home care service vendors to spend 85 percent of state funding they receive on their employees. The language still has to be approved by Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander before the group can begin collecting signatures to place it on a ballot next year.

Each year, Missouri lawmakers appropriate $15.56 to be spent on the state’s 13,000 home health workers. But, only about $8.60 of that gets to the average employee.

The Nixon administration has begun to promulgate a rule that would require more of the state’s money to go to the workers, themselves, instead of the companies, even though such a rule has never been required before.

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