Chicago Home Care Workers Gain Support for $15 and Home Care for All

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 28, 2015

Contact: Kaitlin DeCero, Kaitlin.decero@seiuhcil.org

National Media: Bartees Cox, bartees.cox@berlinrosen.com

 

Chicago ABC 7: Mayoral Candidate Chuy Garcia Supports Home Care Workers Fighting for $15

Chicago WGN: Mayoral Candidate Chuy Garcia Supports Home Care Workers Fighting for $15

Chicago CBS 2: Chuy Garcia Stands With Home Care Workers, Says Fight For $15 About “Dignity”

FOX 32: Jesus “Chuy” Garcia Signs on In Support of $15 for Home Care Workers

Chicago WBBM-AM: Chuy Garcia Supports Home Care Workers With Their Fight for $15 an Hour

Chicago Home Care Workers Gain Support for $15 and Home Care for All as Movement for Higher Wages in Fastest-Growing Industry Picks up Steam

State Sen. Biss, Delgado, State Reps. Mitchell, Flowers and Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia  Join Town Hall Meeting, Pledge Support

 

(Chicago) – State Senators William Delgado and Daniel Biss, State Representatives Mary Flowers and Christian Mitchell, and Chicago mayoral hopeful Jesus “Chuy” Garcia vowed to support Illinois home care workers in their Fight for $15 and home care services for all who need them during a town hall meeting Saturday, February 28 at SEIU Healthcare Illinois.

The town hall in Chicago was one of 20 taking place across the country in late February and early March at which home care workers are meeting with elected officials, academics, community leaders and members of the clergy to build support for their growing movement for higher pay and expanded home care services.

Governor Rauner’s proposed budget cuts would decimate the home care programs that Illinois seniors and people with disabilities count on to live independently at home. Home care workers, home care recipients, lawmakers, and allies came together to demand an investment in home care, and highlight the benefits for our communities, our families, and our economy.

The meeting comes as a new report by the National Employment Law Project shows that if home care industry pay was lifted to $15, the average worker would see 50% more in his or her hourly wage rate. The report said that paying home care workers $15 would increase worker’s yearly earnings by more than $8,000, generating between $3.9 billion and $6.6 billion in economic activity.

“I work hard to care for the seniors I serve, but am not paid enough to provide basic needs for myself,” said Tracy Daily, a home care worker serving seniors in the south suburbs of Chicago who is paid $10.15 per hour after 5 years on the job. “I’ve slept on an air mattress for the last 8 years because that’s how long it’s taken me to save up enough to buy a bed. $15 an hour would change my life, and it would also be good for Illinois’ economy because we’d have more money to spend here, lifting up our communities.”

At the town hall meeting, home care workers held signs echoing calls for $15 an hour, and chanted “What Do We Need? $15. When Do We Need it? Now!”

Across the country, some 2 million home care workers provide daily support services like bathing, toileting, dressing, and preparing meals for older Americans and people with disabilities.

Despite doing the work that allows seniors and people with disabilities to live with dignity, home care is the lowest-paid job in the country. The median wage is just $9.57 per hour. For someone working full-time, that’s $383 a week before taxes, or $1,531 a month, barely enough to rent a one bedroom apartment in many parts of the country, let alone pay for utilities, food, gas, and child care expenses. But even these figures are high, since they don’t account for the unpredictable and part-time hours that reduce home care wages even further. The result is median annual earnings of just $17,000 a year.

Home care plays a crucial role in the nation’s economic future.  It is far from the only low-paying sector of the American economy, but its role is significant because it is one of the top employers of women and because it is projected to continue growing. Home care is the fastest-growing job in the country.

“If we don’t invest in the home care workforce now, we won’t be able to meet the growing demand for services in the future,” said Katie Jordan with the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans. “Higher wages for Illinois home care workers would stabilize the industry and reduce turnover, so seniors and people with disabilities don’t have a revolving door of caregivers.”

“We’re going to keep fighting until we get $15 and make sure everyone who needs home care has access to those services,” said Lanette Newman, a Chicago home care worker. “With support for our movement growing, I know we will win.”

The Fight For $15 started in New York City in November 2012, with 200 fast-food workers walking off their jobs demanding $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation. It has since spread to more than 190 cities in every region of the country. And it has spread to beyond fast food, with home care, airport and retail workers across the country demanding $15 and a union. Since home care workers in a handful of cities first joined the Fight for $15 in September, their campaign, which includes both union and nonunion workers, has spread to 20 cities in every region of the country.

 

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