Archive for January, 2009

New York Times Calls for Federal Wage and Overtime Protection for Home Care Workers

Posted by on January 28th, 2009 at 7:43 am | 6 Comments »

The lead editorial in the January 27 New York Times calls on the federal government to improve wages and labor protections for home care workers — a major area of advocacy for the DCA.

The editorial urges the Obama administration to “rewrite the rules to extend federal protections to home care workers” or work with Congress to pass a law granting those protections –the same recommendation the DCA made in its December letter to President Obama (pdf).

The boom in health care jobs should be a bright spot in today’s economy, the Times points out, but “unfortunately, one of the fastest-growing areas within the health care field — home care for the elderly — also is one of the lowest paid and most exploitable.”

Much of the editorial focuses on the “outdated labor rules from 1975” that exempt home care aides from federal overtime and minimum wage laws — rules that home care worker Evelyn Coke challenged and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 2007. It has already inspired a long list of comments, which are also worth reading.

The Direct Care Alliance launched the Respect for Homecare Workers Campaign  in 2007 to gain support and bring attention to this issue.

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Issue Brief Makes Economic Case for Investing in Direct Care Jobs

Posted by on January 15th, 2009 at 4:49 am | Comments Off on Issue Brief Makes Economic Case for Investing in Direct Care Jobs

phi-issue-brief“Given the sheer numbers of these occupations today as well as their tremendous expected growth, direct-care jobs are uniquely positioned to help repair and stabilize our faltering economy,” says an issue brief from PHI (pdf).

Key facts outlined in Eldercare/Disability Services: Untapped Engine for Job Creation and Economic Growth include:
• Personal and home care aides and home health aides are the second and third fastest-growing occupations in the nation’s economy.
• Direct-care jobs are a $56 billion economic engine, fueled by the personal income of 3 million workers who spend their money largely in their local communities.
• Investing in these jobs would benefit our economy in multiple ways: providing more income and greater economic opportunity to low-income workers while also strengthening health services for our aging and disabled populations.

Elise Nakhnikian
Communications Director
Direct Care Alliance

More Call for Including DCWs in Obama’s Economic Stimulus Plan

Posted by on January 15th, 2009 at 4:42 am | Comments Off on More Call for Including DCWs in Obama’s Economic Stimulus Plan
Labor economist Nancy Folbre

Labor economist Nancy Folbre

The chorus of voices calling on President-elect Obama to include direct care workers in his economic stimulus plan grew louder last month, as pieces in the Huffington Post and the New York Times echoed points made in the DCA’s December 9 letter to the President-elect.

In a December 22 post titled Childcare and Construction, Huffington Post blogger Robert Drago wrote: “A consensus is emerging around the need for a mix of human and physical infrastructure investments in a stimulus package.”

While the eco-friendly “green” construction jobs Obama has called for are needed, Drago said, many commentators have noted that we also need to invest in “pink” jobs – child care, elder care, and other caring jobs, which are mostly filled by women. He linked to several other documents that make that case, including the DCA’s letter.

Construction workers are overwhelmingly male, Drago pointed out, so “bailing out only one sector necessarily means that either men or women benefit disproportionately. We can do better, and a pink and green stimulus package would fit the bill.”

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DCA Gets a Seat at President Obama’s Table

Posted by on January 14th, 2009 at 4:20 pm | 6 Comments »
barack-obama“This is not an end but a beginning,” said Kareem Dale, a member of President-elect Obama’s transition team, to DCA Executive Director Leonila Vega, DCA board member Vera Salter, and the other members of a small group he assembled yesterday in Washington, D.C.

Dale invited the DCA and seven other advocacy organizations, most representing people with disabilities, to one of the final meetings of the transition team. Once Obama is in the White House, that relationship will be continued by a newly created Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs department. The new department will be headed up by Valerie Jarrett, a close friend and advisor of the President-elect.

Each of the groups was asked to present a short list of policy concerns. In her presentation, Vega called on the new administration to include direct care workers in its health care and economic recovery initiatives and to create more direct care jobs. She discussed the need for more home and community based jobs; for family-sustaining, middle-class jobs that ensure quality direct care service; and for more career advancement opportunities for direct care workers. Salter called for better wages, including the Fair Labor Standards Act fix laid out in the DCA’s letter to President-elect Obama (pdf).

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Women Coming Together

Posted by on January 7th, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Comments Off on Women Coming Together

After being so fortunate to attend a first-rate conference on women and work at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and writing a blog about it last month, I have heard from a number of conference attendees who read it. I truly appreciated hearing from you- thanks! Your positive feedback made me feel valued for what I do in a domain that was unfamiliar to me at first. In my first blog, I laid out my uncertainty about how snugly direct care worker issues would fit with women and work issues. But, they did!

Almost all of the estimated 100 attendees were women. We were all there to discuss and learn about women and work issues. As I mentioned in my previous blog, it was amazing to me that direct care worker issues would be such an integral part of the discourse! Why did direct care workers fit in so well? Well, most are women. Not only that, but most are women who face substandard circumstances due to a lack of resources. The underlying causes for the unmet needs of direct care workers are complex. What I do know is that the low wages and too-expensive benefits are only the tip of the iceberg. This became so clear to me at this conference.

To share some of what I have discovered since the conference, I will highlight two presenters:

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