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Union Claims State Is Violating San Diego's Minimum Wage Law

Members of the United Domestic Workers union filed complaints on Thursday alleging the state is violating the city of San Diego's new minimum wage law in pay for in-home health care aides.

San Diego's minimum wage of $10.50 an hour was approved by voters in June and took effect when the primary election results were certified.

However, members of the union contend their recent paychecks from the state continue to reflect California's minimum hourly wage of $10.

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The state handles financial responsibilities for the In-Home Supportive Services program, including paying the workers who help the elderly and ill, keeping them out of more expensive assisted care facilities.

"When I saw my first IHSS check after the increase to $10.50 an hour went into effect in July, I was shocked and upset," said Darlene Nelson, who cares for her two daughters. "When I learned IHSS providers had been left out of the increase because of an unfair decision by the state, I felt like my work was not being valued."

Matt Maldonado of United Domestic Workers told City News Service that state human resources officials said municipalities can't force the state to alter its pay structure.

Negotiations are underway between the state and United Domestic Workers on behalf of the IHSS members, who are working under the terms of a contract that expired last September, Maldonado said.

State spokesman Brian Ferguson said the California Department of Human Resources hasn't seen the complaint and is unable to comment.

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"Under the leadership of Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., the state of California has passed one of the most progressive minimum wage laws in the country which will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022," Ferguson said.

United Domestic Workers filed with the city Treasurer's Department under provisions of an enforcement mechanism passed by the City Council, though city officials said they won't formally accept complaints until two weeks from now.

"The city of San Diego will review all complaints related to the Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance consistent with provisions approved by the City Council, which go into effect Sept, 2, 2016," city spokeswoman Racquel Vasquez said in a statement.

"By Sept. 2, 2016, information regarding this process will be available on the city website, including a violation complaint form," Vasquez said. "Employees may file an action in court to enforce the provisions of the Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance and may also submit complaints to the California Labor Commissioner's Office."