Got Living Wage? Human Services and Medicaid-Funded Workers Need One

It is incredibly important that human services and Medicaid-funded workers, as well as the larger community, speak out now in support of increasing the State Minimum Wage to $15 AND ensuring that the State provide the added funding and reimbursements to make this happen.

Please speak out on this issue by texting 877877 now (put FIGHTFOR15 in the body of the text). You will be prompted to enter your address and you then will be connected to your NY State Senate representative’s office.

You can also call directly. Call your state senator (see list below for which senators represent which towns in Tompkins County) and ask for his support!

Tompkins County State Senators are:

  • Tom O’Mara (City of Ithaca, towns of Enfield, Ithaca, Newfield, Ulysses) – 518-455-2091;
  • James Seward (Towns of Caroline, Danby, Dryden, Groton) – 518-455-3131;

If you live OUTSIDE of Tompkins County and are unsure of who your State Senator is, go to

Please also call NYS Assemblyperson Barbara Lifton at 607-277-8030 (who represents all of Tompkins County and parts of Cortland) and thank her for supporting the $15/hr proposal and ask her to support increased funding for state contracts. If you live outside of Lifton’s district, go to to find out who your Assemblyperson is.

Why is this so important? Because over 200,000 human services and Medicaid-funded workers across the state are paid less than $15/hour or 57% of the total workforce! In fact over one-third of the workforce earns less than $11.50! Despite being a highly skilled workforce (two-thirds of you have some college education and close to half hold a bachelor’s degrees or higher) the human services sector has one of the highest prevalence of low-wages in the private sector, behind food service and retail. This means that you are often eligible for the same public benefits as your clients. You give and give because you love this important work, but in the end you don’t get enough back for yourself and your family.

Just increasing the minimum wage to a living wage, however, is not enough. That is because many of the agencies providing these services are dependent on fixed service contracts from federal, state or local government for their revenue. So in addition to mandating an increase in the Minimum Wage to $15/hour these State human services contracts must be enhanced and Medicaid reimbursements increased to accommodate the wage increases.

Please share this information with your agency and co-workers. It is a message being communicated statewide by a powerful and growing coalition of nonprofit providers led by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Fiscal Policy Institute and the State Human Services Council. See their report here: If you would like a #15andFunding informational flyer for posting contact the Tompkins County Workers’ Center.