Home care workers – union and nonunion, seniors, people with disabilities, and advocates united earlier this week in St. Louis for the first-ever Home Care Workers Rising Summit. The event provided a unique opportunity to bring together voices from across the country with the common goal of moving home care forward. SEIU Healthcare members from Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri participated, as well as several nonunion home care workers who have joined the fight for $15 and a union at their agencies as well.
“This was such an amazing experience,” explained nonunion home care worker Danielle Loving. “I’ve never felt such unity with people I was meeting for the first time!”
Plenaries and workshop sessions addressed the issues and skills needed to take on the challenges and opportunities that care workers are facing right now. The Home Care Fight for $15 was a central theme throughout, and Illinois home care workers shared the work underway already to grow our movement and keep the momentum going.
SEIU HCII Executive Board Chair Flora Johnson also was awarded the Evelyn Coke Lifetime Achievement Award on Monday night during the Summit. Read more here.
On Tuesday morning, we marched side by side with Missouri home care workers who are fighting for a first contract and then rallied outside of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s office. Here are remarks that Gilda Brown, Personal Assistant from Chicago, shared at the rally:
13,000 Missouri home care workers have been fighting for years for their union and a voice. It’s been a long battle but we all know this will pay off and there are tens of thousands of home care workers nationwide who have your backs!
You can look to neighboring states like Illinois to see the power we have when we come together. 30 years ago Illinois home care workers like me made only $1 an hour and had no healthcare, no training. I’m very proud to say that this December 1st, we will start earning $13 an hour! And we have quality health insurance and paid training too.
In Illinois, we have a governor who understands how critical the work we do is – we keep tens of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities out of costly institutional care and at home where they want to be. Governor Quinn knows that decent wages and fair benefits mean reduced turnover and more stability for those who need home care services. Because of Governor Quinn’s support we’ve been able to truly move home care forward in Illinois.
It’s time for Governor Nixon to step up and support home care workers and consumers in Missouri.
“The Summit was such a wonderful experience,” said Kendra Bush, Indiana home care worker and SEIU Healthcare member. “One of the best parts was hearing everyone’s stories, we all have them and I think sharing our personal stories is exactly how we can get more people involved in this movement. I came home and returned to work caring for my 98 year old client and was reminded that this is what it’s all about – keeping people like him living at home comfortably where they want to be.”
Check out the slide show below for photos from the three-day summit.