Archive for August, 2012

Join Us for a National Day of Action/Únete a nosotros en el Día Nacional de Acción

Posted by on August 31st, 2012 at 1:37 pm | 6 Comments »

Home care worker Evelyn Coke fought for the right to overtime pay.

Lea en español

Home care workers play a crucial role in the lives of millions of Americans, yet many can’t even afford to feed their own families. That’s partly because they do not get minimum wage and overtime pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

You can help fix this disgraceful situation by telling your elected representatives to do the right thing. Join us on Friday, September 21, for a National Day of Action to win basic labor rights for home care workers.

 On Capitol Hill

If you can get to Washington, DC on the morning of the 21st, please join us for visits to your members of Congress. We’ll set up the meetings for you, provide you with advance training, and give you talking points to use in your meetings.

In Your Home State

If you can’t get to Washington, you can help at home. Our National Day of Action will take place wherever you are. Just contact our national advocacy coordinator, Jessica Brill Ortiz, and tell her you want to participate.

Continue reading »

Worker Rights Champion on Winning a Battle and Waging a War

Posted by on August 27th, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Comments Off on Worker Rights Champion on Winning a Battle and Waging a War

This summer, National Employment Law Project (NELP) Legal Co-Director Catherine K. Ruckelshaus won the first class-action suit ever for home care workers in New York. Last week, Ruckelshaus talked to DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian about that victory and the related campaign to win the right to minimum wage and overtime pay for home care workers nationwide, in which NELP and DCA are key players.

Catherine Ruckelshaus

What did you win in New York this summer?

The case was brought on behalf of a group of home care workers who worked for McMillan’s Home Care Agency, a small agency in New York City. We brought the case as a class because McMillan’s wasn’t paying overtime, and it wasn’t paying wages for some of the hours worked. In some cases, what people earned didn’t even add up to minimum wage.

That’s not because the agency actually paid less than the minimum wage per hour, but because some people worked so many hours for no pay that they wound up averaging less than minimum wage, right?

Right. They didn’t pay any overtime and they often didn’t pay travel time. If a worker had to travel a lot between clients, that could bring her total average wages below the minimum wage.  Continue reading »

Upcoming Conference Hosted by and for Wisconsin Caregivers

Posted by on August 27th, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Comments Off on Upcoming Conference Hosted by and for Wisconsin Caregivers

Tracy Dudzinski

The Wisconsin Direct Caregiver Alliance is excited to announce its third annual conference, which will be held on September 6 and 7 at the Wintergreen resort and conference center in Wisconsin Dells.  Our conference is put on by direct care workers for direct care workers. Our aim is to educate direct care workers, give ourselves an opportunity to meet and learn from one another, and strengthen our leadership and advocacy skills.

This year, we’re emphasizing three sides of care: caring for yourself, for your consumers, and for your profession.  After an evening of networking and refreshments, we’ll start the educational part of the conference on Friday morning. Dr. Ann Polar, who has trained thousands of direct care workers and other health care professionals, will provide a new perspective on professional boundaries in her keynote address.  Continue reading »

DCA Releases New Fact Sheet About Obamacare

Posted by on August 21st, 2012 at 7:13 am | 2 Comments »

A new DCA fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health reform act frequently referred to as Obamacare. The two-page document explains how the law is already benefiting millions of Americans and how it will help millions more-including more than a million direct care workers-after it is fully implemented in 2014.

As the fact sheet explains, “the reform makes health care more secure for low and middle-income families by increasing access to affordable care. It will also help control health care costs.” It estimates that more than 1.1 million direct care workers who would otherwise be uninsured will be eligible for health insurance after the law is fully implemented, though some will still be left without coverage if their states choose not to implement the Medicaid expansion that is part of the law. Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers Help Lead Movement for Paid Sick Days

Posted by on August 21st, 2012 at 6:41 am | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers Help Lead Movement for Paid Sick Days

Mary Tillman of Boston, Massachusetts

Hundreds of thousands of direct care workers face an impossible choice when they get sick. Should they stay home to heal but lose wages and risk losing their jobs, or work sick and risk infecting the people they assist? Fortunately, those who want to fight for their right to paid sick days can do so, thanks to a growing national movement to win paid sick time for all U.S. workers. And for those who want to do something now, 9to5 will host a National Day of Action on Sunday, August 26.

While nearly three out of every four nursing assistants in nursing homes are entitled to paid sick leave, only half (50.5%) of home health aides working for agencies receive any type of sick leave benefit. More than a million additional direct care workers who are working in less formal arrangements are highly unlikely to receive a single paid sick day. Nationwide, over 40 million workers fall in that category.

Mary Tillman, a personal care attendant from Boston, describes the conflict she experiences when forced to choose between her physical and financial well-being. “I have been a personal care attendant, caring for people with disabilities, for over 24 years,” she says. “I have never had a paid sick day. I have gone to work sick on too many occasions and, on one occasion, I even had pneumonia. I could not afford a day without pay when I live from paycheck to paycheck. I don’t think it’s fair or just that any human being should have to make a decision on health because of money. Paid sick time should be a law. Not only does it allow me to take care of myself and my family, but it is safer for my consumer.” Continue reading »

Supreme Court Ruling on Immigration Law: A Call to Action

Posted by on August 13th, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Comments Off on Supreme Court Ruling on Immigration Law: A Call to Action

Catherine Singley

On June 25, the highest court in the land made a monumental statement about the United States’ broken immigration system: only the federal government, not individual states, has the power to fix it. The Court’s ruling is good news, but it is also a call to action, especially for immigrant workers. Nearly a quarter of all U.S. direct care workers—about 23 percent—are immigrants and about 15 percent are Latino, making this an important issue for direct care workers and those who rely on them.

In a 5-3 decision, the Court struck down most of the provisions of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, which has wreaked havoc in Arizona since it was passed in 2010. After the passage of SB 1070, 72% of Latinos believed that police would be inclined to stop and question someone just because he or she is Latino. In addition to creating a culture of fear, the law resulted in a net financial loss for Arizona, costing the state $434 million and 8,472 jobs due to cancelled conferences, $265.5 million in lost earnings, and $28.8 million in lost taxes. Continue reading »

Voices Institute Grads Speak Out in Miami Herald

Posted by on August 13th, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Comments Off on Voices Institute Grads Speak Out in Miami Herald

DCA members and Voices Institute graduates Elizabeth Castillo, Tim Doe, and Joan Leah provided powerful quotes and facts for a Miami Herald feature story  last week on the U.S. Department of Labor ruling that would grant home care workers minimum wage and overtime pay.

The story explains why DCA and other advocates for rule are concerned that the rule may not go into effect at all if it is not enacted soon. Home care worker Castillo of El Paso, Texas, who does not qualify for overtime and makes barely more than minimum wage, talks about the long hours she logs and her need to rely on food stamps to supplement her income in weeks when she can’t get more than 40 hours of work. “I don’t know how I do it, but I do,“ she says.

Doe, a founding member of the Arizona Direct Care Worker Association’s Leadership Circle who lives in Tucson, must also work long hours without overtime pay to make ends meet and support his three children. “Emotionally, it’s so hard. But I don’t have a choice,” he says. Continue reading »

What Makes Direct Care Workers Stay

Posted by on August 7th, 2012 at 8:43 am | Comments Off on What Makes Direct Care Workers Stay

Ameia Yen-Patton is a nurse, educator, and researcher who has worked as a gerontological nurse practitioner in acute care, home care, and nursing homes in for more than 25 years. She recently earned a PhD in nursing. Last month, she talked to us about what she learned while researching her PhD thesis, which focuses on key causes of job satisfaction or frustration for direct care workers and their supervisors.

Ameia Yen-Patton

What did you measure in your research?

We were measuring the amount of reciprocal ethical caring that was present in nursing home staff. Those who had a strong sense of reciprocal ethical caring, both personally and professionally, can be predicted to stay. Those who are not connected in that way will not stay.

How do you define reciprocal ethical caring?

The word reciprocity is usually defined as doing something that is mutually beneficial. In caregiving, reciprocal relationships are often with the people you care for. They give you love and affection; they give you caring; they give you support; they give you respect; they give you communication—but only if you are receptive. Reciprocity requires both parties to be receptive. There also needs to be reciprocity between the worker, co-workers and the employer. You have to feel confident that if you find something wrong you can address it, and you will be listened to. You need to feel that you are respected and appreciated, and that there is support when you need it. Continue reading »

The Ability to Love at the Day Activity Center (for Dave H)

Posted by on August 7th, 2012 at 8:33 am | 2 Comments »

David Moreau

In the back building on Sabattus St.,

I used to think your eyes were like the eyes

of God, welcoming, attentive, bemused.

You needed those eyes, for though you could

whip your head around when a pretty girl

came in the room, that was all you could move

and your eyes were your arms, legs, hands

and voice.  I’d hold two fingers in front of you

and you looked.   Yankees – Red Sox?

Democrats – Republicans?  Recliner by the window –

wheelchair at the table?  Continue reading »