After fighting cuts to funding — and services — throughout the legislative session, Missouri’s home healthcare workers have unionized.

The ballots have been counted and home care attendants — 12,000 of them — voted to form a union.

Home Healthcare workers and home-bound consumers have rallied against proposed cuts to state funding for services such as bathing, cooking, assistance getting to and from medical appointments and more.

The union says it looks forward to getting into negotiations with the state to establish a more stable work force, strengthen the quality of home care and allow consumers to get the assistance they need.

Home care workers and consumers say the legislature’s proposed cuts to funding the services would have cost the state more in the long run, forcing thousands of Missourians into nursing homes.

“This is a great day for home care workers and the people they serve,” said AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee. “Thousands of Missouri families rely on home care workers to help their loved ones live independent lives. We will use our combined voice to fight unnecessary cuts that threaten quality home care services.”

“This is a big step forward for home care workers in Missouri and the people they take care of. Today’s vote is about home care workers gaining a strong new voice about how to provide better care and support for their clients,” said SEIU Exec. Vice Pres. Mary Kay Henry who also oversees SEIU’s healthcare division.

With the number of elderly Missourians expected to rise by more than 70 percent in the next 20 years, the demand for home care services will skyrocket, says the organization.

Missouri home care attendants join home care workers in more than 10 other states – including California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Washington – who have united to improve the quality of care available to consumers.

Jessica Machetta reports [Download / listen Mp3, 1:18 min.]