Archive for July, 2011

DCA Squares off Against Companionship Exemption Supporter in NYT Blog Story

Posted by on July 25th, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Comments Off on DCA Squares off Against Companionship Exemption Supporter in NYT Blog Story

A Fair Wage for Home Care Workers

New York Times, The New Old Age Blog

By PAULA SPAN

Let’s say a home care agency employee comes to your parent’s residence, changes the sheets and does the laundry, helps him bathe and dress and makes his lunch before moving on to her next client. Should that employee receive minimum wage and, if she works longer than 40 hours in a week, overtime pay?

If that aide performed the same tasks in an assisted living facility or a nursing home, she would be covered under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, like a vast majority of American workers, and would be guaranteed the minimum wage.

But in 1974, when Congress added domestic employees to the act, it exempted those providing “companionship services.” “The idea was to carve out the teenager down the street,” said Catherine Ruckelshaus, legal co-director at the National Employment Law Project. “Companions were more like elder-sitters.”

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Elders, Community Organizations & Disability Leaders in Wisconsin Fight Cap on Home Care Funding

Posted by on July 25th, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Comments Off on Elders, Community Organizations & Disability Leaders in Wisconsin Fight Cap on Home Care Funding

The following letter was sent to U.S. Secretary of HHS, Kathleen Sebelius by the Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations.

The Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations is writing to join various other organizations and elected officials in asking you to deny Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith’s anticipated request to eliminate the entitlement feature of Wisconsin’s Family Care Waiver. As you know, the current agreement in effect between CMS and Wisconsin includes the following language:

“Every eligible person will have entitlement to Family Care within 36 months of implementation of the Family Care Waiver in his or her county. Every person with a nursing home level of care will have the choice of receiving the Family Care (or in some parts of the state Partnership) benefit by enrolling in a managed care organization or to choose Medicaid fee-for-service benefits including participation in IRIS, Wisconsin’s self-directed supports waiver, if desired.” Read full letter to Secretary Sebelius.

DCA Weighs in on House Education and Workforce Committee FLSA Hearing

Posted by on July 18th, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Comments Off on DCA Weighs in on House Education and Workforce Committee FLSA Hearing

July 14, 2011

Chairman Tim Walberg
Workforce Protections Subcommittee
House Education and Workforce Committee

Direct Care Alliance Statement on “The Fair Labor Standards Act: Is It Meeting the Needs of the Twenty-First Century Workplace?” Hearing

 

The DCA would like to take this opportunity to express our strong support for the proposed changes to the FLSA under the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act (H.R. 2341) introduced in the 112th Congress by Rep. Linda Sanchez.

Home care workers deserve the same basic wage and overtime protections that are enjoyed by almost all other workers in the United States.  They are not companions and should not be exempt from FLSA protections under the companionship exemption.  Home care is skilled work that requires a variety of duties, including transferring, bathing, grooming, toileting, feeding, household chores, and medical tasks such as catheter and ostomy care, injections and tube feeding.  FLSA was enacted to fight poverty, spread work and stimulate growth across our economy, however, given the irregular hours and low wages for workers in this industry – the median annual income is $17,000, with 45 percent of direct care workers living at or below 200% of the federal poverty line and 46 percent direct care workers depend on some form of public benefits.

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Care, Commitment and Coffee with Joan Leah and June Ortiz of Florida!

Posted by on July 18th, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Comments Off on Care, Commitment and Coffee with Joan Leah and June Ortiz of Florida!

At the 2011 Voices Institute Leadership Training, DCA communications director, Josh Sabato sat down to speak with direct care workers, Joan and June to discuss the most pressing issues facing direct care workers and how other activists can get involved in direct care advocacy in Florida.


DCA Honors Evelyn Coke’s Legacy by Fighting for the Future of Direct Care Workers

Posted by on July 12th, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Comments Off on DCA Honors Evelyn Coke’s Legacy by Fighting for the Future of Direct Care Workers

Last Saturday, July 9, marked the two year anniversary of the death of Evelyn Coke, a leader in the fight for economic justice for America’s home care workers.  A home care worker herself for 20 years, who often worked 70 hours a week for less than $5.15 an hour, Ms. Coke took her case for unpaid overtime wages all the way to the Supreme Court in 2007.  Unfortunately for Ms. Coke, the court ruled that she was not entitled to any retroactive wages from her former employer.  Fortunately, she inspired a movement for the fair and ethical treatment of millions of direct care workers across the country.  In the spirit of that movement, since 2007 the DCA has led efforts to change the FLSA through legislation in Congress and by calling on the Dept. of Labor to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers.

Last year the DCA began efforts on Capitol Hill to pass the Direct Care Workforce Empowerment Act, a bill that would have finally extend minimum wage and overtime benefits to home care workers.  This year, the DCA is continuing that fight with the introduction and advocacy for the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act, sponsored by Rep. Linda Sanchez in the House and Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. in the Senate.  At a briefing hosted by the DCA on Capitol Hill to announce the legislation last month, Rep. Sanchez aptly stated, “They (direct care workers) care for our parents and grandparents, but we don’t guarantee home care workers the minimum wage. It is my hope that this bill corrects this injustice and helps improve the direction of direct care services.”  In the coming weeks and months, the DCA will continue to build support and advocate for the passage of this critical legislation.  We urge everyone who supports the vital role direct care workers play in our society to ask their representatives in Congress to co-sponsor this legislation today.

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Care, Commitment and Coffee with Muhanna S. Kakish of Minnesota

Posted by on July 12th, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Comments Off on Care, Commitment and Coffee with Muhanna S. Kakish of Minnesota

At the 2011 Voices Institute Leadership Training, DCA communications director, Josh Sabato sat down to speak with direct care worker, Muhanna S. Kakish to discuss the most pressing issues facing direct care workers and how other activists can get involved in direct care advocacy in Minnesota.  DCA Speaks with Muhanna S. Kakish at 2011 Voices Institute Training.

Modernize Medicaid to better support people with disabilities

Posted by on July 5th, 2011 at 2:30 pm | 1 Comment »

By Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) – As published in The Hill Congress Blog

This month marks the 12th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Olmstead V. L.C., ruling that the needless institutionalization of people with disabilities is illegal discrimination.  Despite that decision, misguided Medicaid rules continue to force millions of people with disabilities to remain in nursing homes, against their wishes and at a much greater cost to taxpayers than many home and community-based alternatives.

Today, as we seek ways to reduce budget deficits, we must seize on the opportunity to make our Medicaid dollars go farther while finally giving millions of individuals with disabilities one of the most fundamental of rights: the choice to live independently.

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Care, Commitment and Coffee with Elizabeth Cross of Arizona!

Posted by on July 5th, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Comments Off on Care, Commitment and Coffee with Elizabeth Cross of Arizona!

At the 2011 Voices Institute Leadership Training, DCA Communications Director Josh Sabato sat down to speak with direct care worker Elizabeth Cross to discuss the most pressing issues facing direct care workers and how other activists can get involved in direct care advocacy in Arizona.  DCA Speaks with Elizabeth Cross at 2011 Voices Institute Training.