12:17 PM Eastern - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Supreme Court Case Could Impact Home Care Workers and Consumers #default

Areesa Johnson, Springfield, IL Home Care Worker

PHOTO: Areesa Johnson, Springfield, IL Home Care Worker

On January 21, 2014, the Supreme Court will hear Harris v. Quinn, a case brought by the National Right to Work Committee, an extreme right-wing think tank. This case threatens home care workers' right to collectively bargain with states to improve working conditions.

More than that, Harris v. Quinn jeopardizes the ability of senior citizens and people with disabilities to live independently at home. Weakening our home care workforce will result in more folks being forced to live in institutions.

I have been a Personal Assistant for four years now, caring for people with disabilities in my Springfield, Illinois community. Seventeen years ago, my husband fell ill and that was my first experience as a caregiver. I fell in love with the work then and with each new consumer I work with, that love only continues to grow.

This line of work often involves more than an exchange of services; you build a relationship with the people you care for and share in the joy of their independence through the work that you do. My consumers get to stay in our community, living safely and independently where they want to be, and that makes me very proud to be a home care provider.

Providing home care can be difficult at times. I constantly worry about how I'll cover my own bills each month because I don't get many hours. Sometimes I work without pay because my husband John needs the extra help.

Over the years, home care workers just like me in Illinois and many other states have come together and formed unions. Together, with other home care workers, we were able to improve our working conditions and the quality of care for our clients. Advancements like higher wages, benefits, paid time off and job safety training have allowed us to make home care jobs good jobs.

As more people see home care work as a way to provide for their own families while also making a difference in the lives of other families, turnover goes down and the quality of care for our clients goes up.

My coworkers, other healthcare providers, senior citizens and people with disabilities, and the entire community are concerned that an adverse ruling in Harris v. Quinn would jeopardize continued improvement for our home care system and move us backwards.

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