More than 200 home care workers, advocates and partners gathered in Federal Square yesterday afternoon for the #CareIsEssential rally. They demanded better union jobs with decent wages. They also stressed the urgency of prioritizing an industry led by women of color in stimulus packages. At a press conference held before the rally, US Democratic representatives Robin Kelly and Jan Schakowsky spoke.
âNow more than ever, we have seen that care work – done mostly by women of color and immigrant women – is the work that makes all other work possible. These brave care workers, who have taken the brunt of the overlapping crises of COVID-19 and brought our country through the pandemic, are the same women who will ensure our economy recovers, âsaid said Ai-jen Poo, co-founder and executive director. of the National Alliance of Domestic Workers. âThe services and support provided by unpaid caregivers and family caregivers enables millions of Americans to live and thrive independently and stay connected with the people and places we love. We all have an interest in promoting care, especially as our country ages. As we prepare for a secure and better future for all of our families, we MUST value social workers as the essential workers that they are and center the human infrastructure that makes our economy run. It means investing in good, unionized, paid jobs for all caregivers, in addition to things like roads and bridges. “
The day of action comes as Congress prepares to make important decisions about whether and how to invest in care in support of President Biden’s plan to invest $ 400 billion in health care. the country’s home care workforce. As the House and Senate both propose landmark home care legislation and debate infrastructure and reconciliation programs to fuel America’s economic recovery, workers and advocates say the country cannot stand. fully recover without investing in care.
They called on Congress to pass President Biden’s care plan, which would create a million new care jobs, increase historically underpaid and undervalued healthcare workers, and meet growing care needs. Home care is the fastest growing employment sector in the country. The United States will need to fill an estimated 4.7 million home care jobs, including more than one million new jobs, by 2028. Investment in home and community services would help meet growing demand care and to establish a pipeline of home care workers. in the next generation by transforming care jobs into unionized jobs with good living wages, with training opportunities and real career paths.
âAhead of us lies a tremendous opportunity that our country cannot afford to lose: President Biden has listened to home care workers and proposed a $ 400 billion investment in home and community services. The plan will tackle the twin crisis of access to health care and the shortage of good jobs that is slowing our entire economy, âsaid Mary Kay Henry, president of the International Union of Service Employees, who has 2 million members. âIt is also the first-ever jobs program aimed at providing career paths and good, decent-paying union jobs for a workforce predominantly made up of women of color. Congress must face this moment not only with jobs, but with justice for social workers and caring for our communities. “
The day of action focused on three demands: jobs, care and justice for the 2.3 million home helpers in the United States, 87% of whom are women, 62% are people of color. and one in three immigrants. They demanded a minimum wage of $ 15 / hour, paid vacation and benefits, and the ability to join a union for all social workers in the country.
âOur lives depend on each other – we can’t really thrive when structural racism, sexism and ableism hold us back. People with disabilities know their lives are on the line when the supports they need to live in the community disappear, and home care workers, who are predominantly black and brown women, receive a pittance for their work. essential, âsaid Amber Smock, advocacy director at Access Living, a Chicago-based disability rights and services organization. âOur current support system is not sustainable. People with disabilities and workers who provide direct supports need a real, long-term investment in expanding and stabilizing our home and community care infrastructure.
Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @ DanieSanders20.