Washington, DC - L. Toni Lewis, MD, Chair of SEIU Healthcare, shared this statement today in support of the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act and the revision of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to include all homecare workers:
"We are in the midst of a national crisis of care. Homecare workers around this country are caring for older Americans and people with disabilities who want to live with dignity. Yet these same workers are being deprived of a similar dignity that comes with a good job that can feed and provide for a family.
"This is not just a homecare worker issue: poverty wages, no sick time and no healthcare coverage results in very high turnover rates--in some states as high as 90 percent - and men and women who want to remain at home can find themselves struggling to find or keep the help they need.
"The Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act is a tremendous step forward in delivering the minimum wage and overtime protections that would help stabilize this growing profession and create the kind of jobs that can sustain a family and create new opportunities for job growth and advancement by:
- Ensuring that home care workers receive the same federal minimum wage and overtime protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act that other workers enjoy.
- Improving federal and state data collection and oversight with respect to the direct care workforce; and
- Establishing a grant program to help states improve direct care worker recruitment, retention, and training.
"500,000 homecare worker have united in SEIU to improve the quality of their work and provide the highest quality of care to their clients, but a union is not enough when labor regulations have not kept pace with the reality of a rapidly growing and essential part of the healthcare industry.
"The Fair Labor Standards Act must be revised to include the more than two million homecare workers it presently excludes. This legislation coupled with the swift action of the Department of Labor to include homecare workers under minimum wage and overtime protections will mean that millions of working women and men who are called to this work will enjoy the same protections as other workers. As our country struggles not just to create jobs, but to create good jobs, we cannot miss this opportunity."
With 2.2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers--not just corporations and CEOs--benefit from today's global economy.