Issued December 08, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As President-elect Biden prepares to take office next month, home care and nursing home workers with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) will meet with their members of Congress Tuesday, Dec. 8, urging them to support Biden’s transformative plan for the rapidly growing care economy.
The care workers who will be meeting with members of Congress have been on the front lines of COVID-19, risking their lives daily as our nation battles the ongoing pandemic. They’re also the Black, Latina and Asian Pacific Islander women and immigrants who were key to driving historic turnout for communities of color in battleground cities like Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. 87 percent of home care workers are women, 62 percent are people of color and 31 percent are immigrants. They are demanding the next Congress and administration prioritize care in the economic recovery by ensuring care jobs are good jobs where home care workers are paid higher wages, can easily join together in unions and are able to provide safe, quality care for seniors and people with disabilities.
To speak with a worker participating in the virtual lobby day, please contact Heather Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s long past time this country recognizes that home care workers like me are essential — essential to our patients, to our communities and to the economy,” said Maria Colville, a home care worker in Cambridge, Mass. and member of 1199SEIU-United Healthcare Workers East. “We show up for our clients, even in the middle of a deadly pandemic, because we know they depend on us for quality care, but without proper pay, benefits or protection we know we’re putting our lives at risk. I’m demanding Congress prepare to quickly introduce and pass Joe Biden’s care workforce plan because we need serious reform that keeps clients safe and guarantees that all home care jobs are good, union jobs.”
“Being a home care worker means you work out of passion and love for people - people need to trust you because they depend on you. I love my job but I have to work with several clients just to make ends meet and I still come up short. This keeps me up at night. As a home care worker, I’m also my daughter’s primary caregiver and I get so worn out. We should be able to have a good and fair salary that sustains us because we do this work from the heart,” said Priscilla Smith, a home care worker in North Carolina.
Demand for long term care is on the rise, as Americans over the age of 65 will total 78 million people — 20 percent of the population — by 2035. Care workers are pushing their members of Congress to work with President-elect Biden to build a care infrastructure that includes jobs that can sustain a family with wages of at least $15 per hour, responsible stewardship of Medicaid dollars and quality care that maintains the dignity and independence of aging adults and people with disabilities.
Specifically, the workers are demanding that any legislation addressing the care industry contain four main pillars:
“Black and brown workers were at the heart of last month’s election, and now it’s time for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to lift them up by making long term care jobs the next great jobs of the middle class,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. “In every zip code across the country, home care and nursing home workers perform vital work caring for our elders and loved ones with disabilities, but they're underpaid and undervalued. They’ve waited long enough — Congress must act quickly to make sure care workers are paid at least $15 an hour with the right to form a union and every family has access to quality care.”
“Care workers have always been essential workers in this country. Yet to this day, they remain systematically undervalued and overlooked — even as they remain on the frontlines of this pandemic. Now is the time to lead with racial and gender equity. If we want progress for the women of color and immigrants who do the majority of care work, Congress must advance an economic recovery plan that benefits everyone, with no exceptions. We must build an infrastructure that places care at the center of a just economy,” said National Domestic Workers Alliance Executive Director Ai-jen Poo.
Service Employees International Union
The Service Employees International Union is the nation's second-largest labor union and the largest union of healthcare workers. SEIU is an organization of nearly 2 million members united by their belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide and dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society.
National Domestic Workers Alliance
National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) is the leading voice for dignity and fairness for millions of domestic workers in the United States. Founded in 2007, NDWA works for respect, recognition and inclusion in labor protections for domestic workers, the majority of whom are immigrants and women of color. NDWA is powered by over 60 affiliate organizations and local chapters and by a growing membership base of nannies, house cleaners and care workers in over 20 states. NDWA has created Alia, an online platform to help domestic workers access benefits, not otherwise granted to them, in addition to proposing a National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights with Senator Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.