Posted by Jessica Brill Ortiz on May 18th, 2014 at 1:32 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Worker Voices Ring Loud and Clear at Capitol Hill Briefing
“That was so compelling.” “How can I learn more?” “How powerful!”
That was some of the feedback I received from the people who approached me following a May 8 briefing on Capitol Hill. The Washington, D.C. briefing was hosted by OWL–The Voice of Midlife and Older Women, to observe the release of its annual Mother’s Day report. The focus of this year’s report is long-term care, services and supports (LTSS), including growing demand, challenges, and opportunities for improvement, and I had been asked to talk about how direct care workers fit into that picture. My co-panelists highlighted key considerations including how best to meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities, the challenges facing family caregivers, financing, and the lack of a political will for change. I spoke about the critical role played by direct care workers and how best to strengthen and support the direct care workforce to meet the growing demand for high-quality care and support.
When I spoke, there were gasps from the audience at the size and anticipated growth of the workforce, the percentage of women in the profession, and the low wages and high rate of dependence on public assistance among direct care workers. We are so familiar with these facts and figures that we sometimes forget how shocking they are to people who are new to them, but reactions at the briefing proved that we were reaching new people, teaching them about the urgency and importance of direct care workforce issues, and inspiring them to take action. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on May 1st, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Comments Off on DCA to Speak About Direct Care Workers at D.C. Briefing
Jessica Brill Ortiz
DCA National Advocacy Director Jessica Brill Ortiz will speak at a May 8 briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
OWL–The Voice of Midlife and Older Women is holding the briefing to observe the release of its annual Mother’s Day report, which focuses this year on long-term care, services and supports. Brill Ortiz will speak about the critical role played by direct care workers and how best to strengthen and support the workforce so workers can meet the growing demand for reliable, high-quality care and services.
The briefing will address a critical juncture at which America stands and how we can successfully navigate it: As our population ages and lives longer, we are experiencing a fast-growing need for long-term care, services and supports. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on April 22nd, 2014 at 11:54 am | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News
DCA’s Jessica Brill Ortiz will be one of the participants at a May 8 Capitol Hill briefing on long-term care hosted by OWL – the Voice of Midlife and Older Women. Jessica will explain the importance of direct care workers and the direct care workforce issues that must be addressed in order to ensure quality long-term care services and supports for all who need them.
As a member of the Caring Across Generations Leadership Team, DCA is proud to have helped lead a series of actions organized by Caring Across Generations last week in Washington D.C. The following is a report on the events from some of the group’s leaders: Ai-jen Poo, Sarita Gupta, and Rory McCarron.
Ai-jen Poo (L), DCA’s Brenda Nachtway (center) and DCA member Peg Ankney (R) in D.C. last week with celebrity spokespeople Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker.
We did it!
Last week, we brought more than 100 people representing 26 different states together for a congressional briefing in D.C., asking for a comprehensive approach to expanding and supporting a strong home care workforce and making community-based long-term services and supports affordable and accessible. Because long-term care is a women’s issue—women both provide and receive most of the care and services—we built our visits around the theme of Mother’s Day.
Together we shared over two hours of testimony, held more than 40 meetings with Senate offices, and got resolutions introduced into both the House and the Senate, calling for a solution to the long-term care crises our families are in. We couldn’t have done it without your support.
Charlean Nichols (L) with other home care workers and clients at OMB
Earlier this month, I got an opportunity I had never dreamed of when I started doing home care three years ago. I went to Washington, D.C. with Direct Care Alliance and other advocates to tell people at the White House Office of Management and Budget why we home care workers need the same basic rights as other health care workers. Nursing assistants in nursing homes are guaranteed minimum wage and overtime pay, but we home care workers aren’t, and that’s not right.
It’s been more than a year since President Obama announced proposed regulations to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to us home care workers under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The regulations haven’t been enacted yet, and some people are starting to worry that they won’t be. We went to the budget office while it was reviewing the rules to explain why they are so important to us. Continue reading »
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.
Last Friday, on the first day of Women’s History Month, I attended a meeting with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) about the proposed rule to end the exclusion of home care workers from minimum wage and overtime protections. It has been 14 months since I stood behind the President when he announced the rule as one of his “we can’t wait” initiatives. I hope my fellow home care workers and I won’t have to wait much longer, now that the rule is with OMB for the last step in the review process.
The meeting started with a summary of why we were there. The OMB representative started asking questions, and you could tell she had been talking to people from groups that oppose the rule. We explained that extending these basic rights to home care workers would improve care and recognize this work as a real job.
When it was my turn to speak, I told them it was an insult to be excluded from the Fair Labor Standards Act. I said being a home care worker was a real job and a difficult job. I also said I didn’t understand why, when I worked in a nursing home. I had these basic protections, but now that I worked in home care I did not. I explained that when I worked at the nursing home I was supervised, so I actually use a higher set of skills in home care than when I worked in the nursing home. Something here just doesn’t add up. I explained that I am not a companion; I am doing intimate personal care with the consumers I serve. Companions do not do what I do.
After the meeting the OMB person came up to me and thanked me for being there and sharing my story. She also thanked me for the work I do and said she understands better now what I do and the importance of what we do. All in all, I feel that we made a difference and gave the OMB more to think about. We had real people there telling our stories, not high-paid lobbyists.
I hope that next time I attend a meeting about this rule, it will be to celebrate some long-overdue changes.
“Right now, many get no training at all. There’s little path to advancement. And with a median wage less than $10 an hour, it’s hard to call this a career,” says a report on home care worker wages that aired on NPR’s All Things Considered on October 16.
Reporter Jennifer Ludden and producer Marisa Peñaloza joined DCA in Washington, D.C. on the National Day of Action we sponsored last month. While there, they interviewed DCA board chair Tracy Dudzinski, who discussed the complexity of the work she does and the skills she needs as a home care worker. “When I’m in home care, I’m a doctor, I’m a nurse, I’m a cook, I’m a dietician,” she said. “You name it, we do it.”
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 »
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.
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 »
Direct Care Alliance Board Chair Tracy Dudzinski was at the White House last Friday for a briefing on cooperatives.
Tracy Dudzinski at the White House
DCA: Who was there and what did you talk about?
TRACY: The National Cooperative Business Association invited leaders from 150 cooperatives across the nation to talk to the White House staff about what co-ops can do for the economy.
My agency, Cooperative Care, is a worker-owned home care cooperative, and I’m the chair of their board too. Cooperative Care was one of the featured success stories in the packet of information that NCBA made up for the White House staff. There were only eight or ten of them, so that was pretty good.
Did you get a chance to speak?
One of our allies from here in Wisconsin got the floor and talked about home care co-ops. Then she nodded at me and said I was from Cooperative Care and we were a success story, so I was able to speak a little about how we’re doing so well that we have hired 15 new people in the last year. Continue reading »
The Direct Care Alliance expands its advocacy staff today with the addition of National Advocacy Coordinator Jessica Brill Ortiz.
Brill Ortiz, who comes to DCA from the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (the Consumer Voice), is a committed advocate for long-term care reform. “I know Jessica shares our passion for improving direct care jobs and we’re excited to have a full-time staff member in Washington, D.C.” says DCA Director of Policy and Planning David Ward.
Brill Ortiz managed and led several key programs at the Consumer Voice, where her title was Program Manager. “Jessica has been a tremendous asset to the organization on a number of fronts, including leadership over family council support projects, providing technical assistance to hundreds (if not thousands?) of consumers and their families, and by serving as a key staff support to our Consumers for Quality Care No Matter Where initiative,” wrote Consumer Voice Executive Director Sarah Wells in the organization’s April 17 newsletter.
As DCA’s National Advocacy Coordinator, Brill Ortiz will lead DCA’s advocacy campaigns and our efforts to provide direct care workers with opportunities to participate in policymaking decisions that will affect them. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us in welcoming her aboard!
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
We are excited to report that the Senate confirmed President Obama’s appointment of M. Patricia Smith as Solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor.
This is great news for direct care workers because Ms. Smith has a proven track record as a champion for American workers. In her new position, she will be responsible for enforcing national labor laws. The DCA is hopeful that she will make the extension of federal wage and overtime protections to home care workers a top priority once she takes office.
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on February 16th, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Comments Off on Support Melanie’s March for Health Care Reform
A group of Pennsylvanians is marching the 135 miles from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., over the next week. They are going to call on Congress to support health care reform, and they want you to join them.
It may be a little late to join the march from start to finish, since it starts on February 17, but the leaders of Melanie’s March are also looking for people to join them at events along the way in cities like Newark, Wilmington, and Baltimore; donate to support the cause; or march the last mile with them to Capitol Hill. Continue reading »
Posted by Leonila Vega on February 16th, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Comments Off on DCA Welcomes DC-Based Director of Communications
The Direct Care Alliance will welcome another new staff member and boost our presence in the nation’s capitol when Aaron P. Pickering joins us as our full-time director of communications next week.
Aaron comes to us from Equal Justice Works, where he helped promote the work of law students and attorneys providing pro bono representation to low-income and vulnerable individuals and families. As their senior communications specialist, he was part of the team that developed their communications and marketing strategy. Aaron brings the right combination of skills and passion for social justice that will benefit the DCA as we fight for improving the direct care profession. Continue reading »
Posted by David Ward on November 11th, 2009 at 5:58 pm | Comments Off on Smith Presents on Home Care Worker Rights at NELP Conference
The National Employment Law Project’s Reclaiming our Wages conference was an energizing meeting of people from universities, non-profit organizations, unions, and government agencies. What we all had in common was a commitment to strengthening the rights of workers who are often victims of injustices such as poor working conditions and wage theft.
The November 6 and 7 conference was a great opportunity to learn more about the creative approaches that some of our allies are taking to address the needs of their constituents and to build partnerships in confronting some of the common challenges that we face. One of the conference highlights was Peggie Smith’s presentation on policy and organizing strategies to address the needs of home care workers. It was very gratifying to hear her recognize the DCA and its state affiliates for our work to improve direct care jobs!