BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A new one-year contract is to allow 58,000 personal care attendants (PCA) across Massachusetts to now receive $18 per hour.

Inside the contract will include a 10% pandemic premium with a wage of $17.71 that was to expire on June 30 and provides a pathway to $18 per hour in April 2023. Those with more experience, certification and training will be granted higher wages.

“PCAs provide vital support to some of our most vulnerable MassHealth members,” said Secretary of Health and Human Service Marylou Sudders. “This agreement recognizes the critical role of PCAs, particularly through the pandemic, and continues the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to supporting this workforce.”

Across the state are PCAs providing high-quality and safe care to seniors and those with disabilities. According to United Healthcare Workers East, Massachusetts has over one million seniors and approximately 500,000 adults living with a disability.

United Healthcare Workers East says the state has seen a shortage of PCAs and there is an intention to focus on recruitment to attract more than one million workers into a PCA role by 2026.

Home care is among the fastest growing jobs in the country, but one of the lowest paid. Winning $18/hr is a major win for PCAs and the thousands of families that rely on their care,” said Tim Foley, 1199SEIU executive vice president. “Since uniting in 1199SEIU, PCA wages have increased by 66%, plus they’ve secured training and educational opportunities, paid time off, and more. All of this ensures PCAs can remain in the profession they love and care for Massachusetts.”

“I have worked nonstop during the pandemic, on the frontlines but invisible. This contract reinforces that we are heroes and essential,” said Janice Guzman, a PCA in Worcester. “However, this is only the beginning. PCAs will be back at the bargaining table next year with the new administration and will continue to fight for necessary investments for the PCA program, to protect good jobs and quality home care.”

The tentative contract will also include retirement options, address issues of late and non-payment for PCAs, and increased access to safety supplies such as gloves, antigen tests, and masks.

PCAs will be able to sign a new contract in the upcoming weeks.