Home Care Workers to Rally for Higher Wages

Home care workers are joining a nationwide movement to raise the wages of low-paid Americans with meetings and rallies in more than 20 cities the next two weeks. The campaign, which kicks off Monday in Carson City, Nev., was inspired by fast food and retail worker protests the past two years that helped spark minimum wage hikes in many states and prompted Walmart to boost its pay floor last week. Home care aides joined some of those rallies, but this is their first independent push. Like the fast food workers, the 2 million personal care and home health aides seek a $15 hourly wage and the right to unionize, which is barred in some states. Their median hourly wage is about $9.60 and annual pay averages just $18,600 because many work part-time, according to the Labor Department and National Employment Law Project.

That puts the industry among the lowest paying despite fast-growing demand for home-based caregivers to serve aging Baby Boomers over the next decade. “Home care providers living in poverty don’t have a stable standard of living so they can provide quality care,” says Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which is spearheading the home care aides’ movement and backed the fast-food worker strikes. In 2013, Labor announced a rule guaranteeing home care workers minimum wage and overtime but it was stayed by a federal judge in December. That ruling is being appealed. The mostly female workers help seniors and the disabled with tasks such as eating, dressing and bathing. Some perform duties such as checking vital signs. They typically work for private agencies or are independent providers paid by Medicaid.

Source/more: USA Today

David Wingate is an elder law attorney. He practices in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. The elder law practice comprises of wills, powers of attorneys, trusts, asset protection and Medicaid.

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