Watch Respect: The Joy of Aides, a wonderful 20-minute documentary by Eva Sweeney, a woman with CP, about how to hire and manage aides and what it’s like when a direct care worker and a client work well together.
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on February 11th, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News
A MomsRising blog carnival on how the Affordable Care Act is affecting health care coverage includes posts from DCA member and home care worker Mohan Varghese and from DCA’s Jessica Brill Ortiz and Elise Nakhnikian.
A worker from DCA Board Chair Tracy Dudzinski’s Wautoma, Wisconsin-based home care coop is one of the experts quoted in this NPR report on the growing trend of seniors caring for seniors.
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on April 2nd, 2013 at 9:06 am | Comments Off on Paid Sick Days Movement Wins Major Victory in New York City
The movement to win paid sick leave for the nation’s workers won a major victory in New York City last week, when an agreement was reached on a bill that would require all employers in the city with at least 15 employees to give their full-time workers five paid sick days a year. A similar victory was just won in Portland, Oregon, and the Philadelphia city council recently passed a paid sick days bill.
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on January 7th, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Comments Off on An Economists’-Eye View of Why We Don’t Value Caregiving Enough
A recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant for her groundbreaking explorations of care work, labor economist Nancy Folbre is a regular contributor to the New York Times’ Economix blog, for which she often writes about caregiving. Her latest multi-author book, For Love and Money, which she edited and cowrote, looks at both paid and unpaid care of children, older adults, and children and adults with disabilities. The book argues that these forms of caregiving are severely underpaid and undervalued, though they make up a vital and enormous part of our economy. DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian interviewed Professor Folbre about the book via email.
Your book raises some “pointed questions,” as you put it, about care work, starting with why women continue to do most of it, both paid and unpaid. What did you and your coauthors conclude about that?
We argue that some intrinsic features of care work contribute to its undervaluation in the market. On the supply side, caregivers often initially feel, or gradually develop, emotional attachment to those they care for, which reduces their “bargaining power.” On the demand side, those who need care the most are often the least able to pay for it.
Do you think the fact that caregiving has traditionally been thought of as “women’s work” is a large part of the reason why the wages and benefits are generally so poor? Or are other factors more to blame?
Is care underpaid because women do most of it, or are women less economically powerful than men because they specialize in care? This is not an either/or question, but a chicken and egg question. Continue reading »
Posted by Katie Joaquin on October 15th, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Comments Off on Battle Lost, the Fight’s Still On for Domestic Workers Rights in California
In California, domestic workers have been building a movement of thousands of domestic workers, domestic employers, women, faith leaders, labor leaders, students, and community advocates, united in a vision of dignity and respect for the people who care for our families and homes. A priority item on our agenda is to win a bill of rights for domestic workers.
The second measure of its kind in the country, after one that went into effect in New York in November 2010, the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights would have required the Department of Industrial Relations to promulgate regulations that would grant all home care workers and other domestic workers in the state the right to meal and rest breaks, overtime pay, and uninterrupted sleep. Continue reading »
Determined to win home care workers the respect and basic labor protections they deserve, direct care workers and their allies converged on Capitol Hill last Friday for a National Day of Action. The advocates visited their members of Congress to deliver an urgent message: We must guarantee home care workers the right to minimum wage and overtime pay. Meanwhile, hundreds of advocates across the nation delivered the same message in their home states, visiting members of Congress in their home offices, calling them on the phone, or signing petitions in support of the cause.
The event was sponsored by the Direct Care Alliance (DCA), in partnership with Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice and the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA). Many other national and local organizations also participated, spreading the word to their constituents.
On Capitol Hill
The more than 50 people who met in Washington, D.C. started the day with a morning orientation session led by DCA’s National Advocacy Coordinator Jessica Brill Ortiz. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on September 17th, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Comments Off on Health Care Documentary Highlights CNA’s Central Role
Cynthia Y. Johnson
The Waiting Room captures the rhythms of life in an overburdened big-city emergency room—and demonstrates the crucial role direct care workers play in our health care system.
The film, which will have its theatrical premiere next week in New York City and LA after a series of community screenings, documents a dysfunctional system, showing how people without insurance must resort to the ER for chronic conditions that could easily be controlled if only they could afford to see a family doctor or buy needed medication. It’s a disturbing state of affairs, yet the movie feels hopeful, thanks to the kindness, competence and compassion of the staff and the lengths to which they go to help their patients.
Of all the caring professionals in The Waiting Room, none are more impressive, or more important, than Cynthia Y. Johnson, the CNA who manages the Oakland, California, waiting room of the title. Her unflappable competence, humor and warmth helps keep the crowded room running smoothly while infusing it with a crucial sense of humanity. Continue reading »
In “Latham Gets Thanked, But for What?,” Des Moines Register columnist Dean Lerner dissects an ad that ran in the paper, “profusely thanking Iowa Congressman Tom Latham ‘for Supporting Home Healthcare for Iowa Seniors.’ ” The ad was paid for the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare, whose members are primarily large national home care franchises. In fact, Lerner points out, Latham is anything but helping the cause of home care, as he cosponsored the bill that would prohibit the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) from enacting the rule that guarantees home care workers minimum wage and overtime pay. Lerner then explains why granting home care workers basic labor rights is good for the elders and people with disabilities who rely on them. Continue reading »
Posted by Wendy Chun-Hoon 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.
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 »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on June 27th, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act Introduced in the House and Senate!
Last Friday, the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act was introduced in the U.S. House (HR 2341) and Senate (S. 1273) by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) and Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA). The bill was submitted with 22 original co-sponsors in the House and in the Senate, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, Tom Harkin also signed on as an original co-sponsor.
Rep. Sanchez released a statement on the importance and impact of the legislation stating “It is impossible to overstate the importance of direct care workers…They provide essential care and daily living services to more than 13 million elderly and disabled Americans. They care for our parents and grandparents, but we don’t guarantee home care workers the minimum wage. It is my hope that…” Read full release from Rep. Sanchez
Posted by David Ward on January 24th, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Comments Off on State Budget Deficits are Causing a Care Crisis
In the wake of a slow economic recovery, state budget deficits are growing as unemployment remains high and state tax revenues continue to shrink. States that have fallen victim to budget shortfalls are being forced consider cuts to human service programs at a time when people need them most.
The deficit crisis is not discriminating between states that are known for its spending and states that are noted for their fiscal restraint. California, Illinois and New York are all facing significant deficits. But so is Texas, which is facing a $25 billion budget deficit. Given its already lean budget, the Texas legislature is considering cutting Medicaid altogether. This is at a time when nearly one in ten Americans are unemployed and more families are relying on safety net programs such as Medicaid.
California, on the other hand, has been battling budget problems for some time and has made multiple attempts to reduce reimbursements to state health care providers, including direct care workers. In 2008, this effort was rebuked by Federal courts and now the Supreme Court is set to hear the case. Many states, health and long-term care consumers and workers will be impacted by this ruling.
As an advocate for home care workers in the heart of the Los Angeles immigrant community, I work with hundreds of immigrant home care workers in my role as a leader and Associate Director of the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC). I attended a meeting in Houston from April 14-15, 2010, organized by the Department of Labor Office of Safety and Health Administration (DOL-OSHA), where Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis spoke about safety in the workplace. Immigration was a topic of the discussion as well, given that so many workers who face labor safety issues are recent immigrants to America. “Working without papers may be against the law, but it is NOT A DEATH SENTENCE!” said Secretary Solis. DOL statistics reveal that 14 immigrants die each day in the U.S. because of unsafe working conditions. Caregivers are among them.
As every direct care worker advocate knows, personal and home care aides earn far too little for the important work they do. And now an updated version of PHI’s State Chart Book on Wages for Personal and Home Care Aides (PDF) gives advocates a valuable tool, proving that real wages are actually getting worse.
The chart book analyzes data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, adjusting last year’s wages for inflation to see how their earning power compares to average wages in 1999.
Nationwide, these inflation-adjusted rates, which the chartbook calls “real wages,” have decreased by 3 percent over the past nine years, dropping from $7.50 an hour to just $7.31. Real wages increased in more than half the states during that period, but not enough to make up for their decline in the other 21.
Median wages in 2008 ranged from $7.05 an hour in Texas to $12.55 in Alaska in 2008, or real wages of $5.61 to $9.90. “Wages for personal and home care aides are so low,” says PHI Director of Policy Research Dorie Seavey, “that about 20 percent of these workers received a raise on July 24 when the minimum wage increased to $7.25/hour.”
The chartbook also compares wages to federal poverty level wages for a one-person household.
Direct Care Alliance
Most low-wage workers put in some unpaid overtime, but home health aides are particularly likely not to be paid, according to a new study. “Home health care workers are especially vulnerable to violations, both because of the nature of the job and because they’re not fully covered by the protections that most of us take for granted,” said Annette Bernhardt, the policy co-director of the National Employment Law Project and one of the co-authors of Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers: Violations of Employment and Labor Laws in America’s Cities.
The report is based on a survey of 4,387 workers in low-wage industries in the three largest U.S. cities—Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. It found that employment and labor laws are “regularly and systematically violated” in home health care and other low-wage work settings.
“More than two-thirds (68 percent) of our sample experienced at least one pay-related violation in the previous work week,” says the report’s executive summary. “The average worker lost $51, out of average weekly earnings of $339. Assuming a full-time, full-year work schedule, we estimate that these workers lost an average of $2,634 annually due to workplace violations, out of total earnings of $17,616.”
While home health aides were less likely (12%) than the average low-wage worker (26%) to earn less than minimum wage, they were more likely not to be paid extra if they put in more than 40 hours a week. Of the home health aides who had worked overtime in the previous week, 83% were not paid extra for that time, compared to 76 percent of the workers overall who had put in overtime. Continue reading »