Archive for December, 2011

DOL Now Accepting Comments on Proposed Home Care Rule

Posted by on December 27th, 2011 at 1:52 pm | 1 Comment »

DCA Board Chair Tracy Dudzinski (fourth from right) stood behind the President as he announced the proposed rule.

The new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to extend basic labor protections to home care workers is now open for public comment.

DOL will collect comments on the rule for the next two months. It will then weigh all the comments it has received and decide whether to amend and/or enact the rule.Opponents are already organizing to tell DOL not to enact it, so workers and our allies must rally as well, to make sure that our voices are heard and this injustice is overturned.

As President Obama made clear when he announced the proposed rule (see video below), DOL wants to end this injustice, but it needs your support. It takes just a few minutes to help ensure that home care workers get the basic rights they deserve.

Please submit your comment now if you’re ready, or check back with us next week, when we’ll have easily customized comment letter templates and other materials to help guide you through the process.

To comment, visit our advocacy center, go to Take Action, and click on the link that leads to the comment submission page.

A Landmark Day for Home Care Workers

Posted by on December 20th, 2011 at 12:03 am | 5 Comments »

Last Thursday was a big day in the history of the fight for direct care worker rights, and I was lucky enough to be right there in Washington, DC, representing DCA and my fellow home care workers when President Obama made the announcement. (That’s me in the video, right behind the President’s left shoulder). The President was telling the press about a proposed rule that would finally give home care workers Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protections.

I felt truly honored and humbled as I headed in to the Department of Labor on Thursday morning and met the other home care workers who were there for the announcement. We got to meet the staff who had made this proposed rule change a reality, who are all very passionate about correcting this injustice against home care workers. It was strange because they treated us like royalty. I told them that I wanted to thank them for all their hard work, but they kept saying we workers were the ones who deserved to be thanked for all that we do.  Continue reading »

Home Care Workers Poised to Win Basic Labor Protections

Posted by on December 15th, 2011 at 2:07 pm | 4 Comments »

The fight to win basic labor protections for home care workers may soon be won, thanks to a proposed rule announced today by President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. The rule would extend minimum wage and overtime pay guarantees and other protections to these workers under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). 

Home care workers are currently excluded from FLSA because they are considered mere “companions,” an outdated ruling that fails to account for the health and personal care services they provide to elders and people with disabilities. “Extending minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers has been the Direct Care Alliance’s flagship issue since the Supreme Court ruled against Evelyn Coke,” says Leonila Vega, executive director of the Direct Care Alliance (DCA). “We are delighted that the end of this injustice is in sight.” Continue reading »

Poems by Direct Care Workers: A Direct Care Worker Teaches the World to Love

Posted by on December 12th, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Comments Off on Poems by Direct Care Workers: A Direct Care Worker Teaches the World to Love

David Moreau

She knows how to turn your mother’s body
to slide the wet Attends from under her,
to clean her peri area, so the skin does not turn red
and every day your mother tells her the same story -
she saw Yul Brynner in the King and I on her honeymoon
and every day the direct care worker
this frail packet of bones
a young woman amazed by the bright lights
and her new life.

Later she finds herself singing,
getting to know you, getting to know all about you…
and its comforting
enough to make it through her shift.

Home Care Agency Owner Finds Caregiver Training Invaluable

Posted by on December 12th, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Comments Off on Home Care Agency Owner Finds Caregiver Training Invaluable

Bob Hebert

My wife and I own a non-medical home care agency that provides assistance with activities of daily living. Our clients are all private-pay, and our direct care workers are all caregivers or companions, not certified CNAs or home health aides.

Those caregivers are our business. Young or old, they have to have a passion and a heart for this kind of work. But they also have to be managed and supported and trained.

We offer our caregivers a lot of training, and we find they really appreciate the classes. Arizona is one of 23 states that do not have licensure requirements for home care. There is no federal training requirement for home care workers, and no state requirement either in our state, except a new one that just applies to people who work at agencies that serve Medicare or Medicaid recipients. But of course all home care workers need training, so most companies do it themselves. Continue reading »

Huffington Post Shines Light on FLSA Companionship Exemption

Posted by on December 6th, 2011 at 11:24 am | Comments Off on Huffington Post Shines Light on FLSA Companionship Exemption

“If you’re in this job for money, you’re in it for the wrong reason, but I’d like to see that change someday,” says a Florida home care worker in Healthcare Workers on Verge of Winning Equal Rights, Higher Pay. The December 1 Huffington Post article looks at the companionship exemption that denies home care workers overtime pay and other basic protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act, explaining that the White House is considering a rule that would end the exemption.

Paul Sonn, legal co-director of the National Employment Law Project, told writer Dave Jamieson, who covers workplace issues for the influential blog, that undoing the companionship exemption is “a really important change to build a foundation for improving these jobs.” Jamieson also quotes Direct Care Alliance Policy Director David Ward, who says the high turnover rates for home care aides prove that the current system of low pay and few benefits doesn’t work. “We need to make greater investment in the workers” says Ward. “There’s going to be an increasing demand.”

The Florida worker, who recently contributed a DCA blog post about how her lack of overtime pay and pay for travel time between clients affects her and her family, told Jamieson she has to work twice as many hours as her husband to earn the same amount he does. “My life pretty much revolves around my job,” she said.

Judge Temporarily Blocks 20% Pay Cut for Family Caregivers

Posted by on December 6th, 2011 at 10:58 am | Comments Off on Judge Temporarily Blocks 20% Pay Cut for Family Caregivers

As home health agency owner Tim Plant explained in a September 20 DCA blog post, Minnesota’s new budget included a 20 percent pay cut for personal care assistants who provide care to a relative. The cut was to have gone into effect October 1, but a dedicated group of activists worked hard to convince lawmakers and Department of Human Services administrative staff that it should not be enacted. The activists succeeded in getting the cut tabled, but more action is needed to ensure that it is permanently defeated, as Vice President Brigette Menger-Anderson of the Direct Support Professional Association of Minnesota (DSPAM) explains in  DSPAM’s newsletter. See below for the beginning of her article and a link to the rest.

In the last newsletter, we provided you with a legislative update, focusing on the unprecedented 20% rate cut for providers who were billing for PCA services provided by caregivers of family members. This statute deeply impacted the disability and DSP community immediately. Many providers reduced the wages of their workers to compensate for the reduction. Some DSPs recently blogged on the DCA that they are now down to $7.75 an hour and can’t even afford the gas to get to provide the supports that are needed. DSPs wrote into DSPAMs Facebook page and shared that they live in small rural towns and feel that it is unlikely to get someone else to fill these shifts and that the providers are banking on the genuine caring and giving nature of DSPs to continue to do their jobs.

What we need for our legislators and the general public to understand is that direct support workers are provided a service that is the least costly and offers the most opportunity for dignity and independence to the individuals who receive direct care services. Read the rest in the Winter 2011 I Am DSPAM newsletter, starting at the top of the 11th page.