Care workers receive raises

GLOVERSVILLE – Lexington Center officials were happy today to receive word the newly adopted 2014-15 state budget provides 2 percent cost-of-living adjustments for direct-care workers, starting Jan. 1.

“It’s good news,” said Wally Hart, Lexington’s division director for business and community development. “It’s better than nothing the last four years.”

The office of state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver issued a news release Monday indicating a “much-needed” COLA will be put in place as part of the state budget adopted Monday.

Hart said he learned the state budget will include $122 million to support a 2 percent COLA for direct-care workers, effective Jan. 1, 2015. Direct-care workers will receive another 2 percent salary increase for the following fiscal year, beginning April 1, 2015.

Lexington Center had pushed hard for raises for its 1,000 direct-care workers. That lobbying effort extended all the way to Albany lawmakers.

“We’re very grateful to all our staff and families who wrote letters,” Hart said.

In this area, Amsterdam-based Liberty also will benefit from the raises. Lexington and Liberty are chapter members of the New York State ARC, a statewide advocacy organization serving people with disabilities.

“Direct-care workers put in long hours caring for some of our most vulnerable men, women and children,” Silver said in a prepared statement. “They are underappreciated, and for too long they have been underpaid. Providing these men and women with a COLA was a priority that the Assembly negotiated for tirelessly from day one of the budget negotiations.”

The release said COLA for direct-care workers was originally agreed to in 2006 but has been delayed since 2008, making this year’s agreement the first pay increase for these employees in several years. The COLA would be implemented for programs funded by the State Offices for Aging, Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, Children and Family Services, Mental Health, People with Developmental Disabilities and the Department of Health.

Michael Anich can be reached at