By Lauralyn Clark, a home care worker and member leader of SEIU VA512
As a 20-year home care worker in Richmond, Va. I was making $8.50 an hour with no healthcare, paid sick days, or other benefits. Recently, I was left without a paycheck and evicted after my client was hospitalized. I know firsthand how undervalued and underappreciated our work as home care providers can be.
Caregiving work is essential work and should be valued, but, under President Trump’s leadership, frontline workers still lack hazard pay, paid sick leave and protective gear even half a year into this pandemic. We’ve always been on the edge—facing a racist and rigged system—and COVID has pushed too many of us over it.
Most frustrating of all is that it didn’t have to be this way. More than 100 days ago, the House passed the HEROES Act, which would have given us masks, paid sick leave, hazard pay and much needed unemployment benefits. But President Trump and his Republican allies in the Senate keep going on vacation and refusing to pass it.
My great grandmother was enslaved. I honor her by supporting other home care workers—87 percent of us are women and more than half are women of color—and making sure our voices are heard. This year, I spent Juneteenth registering members of my community to vote and will make sure they have a plan to vote this election.
This election is so important, because we need to get someone in office who will lift up working people and who will work to unite us and break down white supremacy, not someone who works to divide us. As a Black woman, as an essential worker and as an American, my vote is essential. This November, we will be heard.