(September 9th, 2015, Springfield) — A statewide coalition of advocates — including home care workers, seniors and adults with disabilities — converged at the State Capitol today to hold a press conference urging lawmakers to pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, HB 1288.
The bill will finally grant domestic workers the same basic legal and workplace protections that other workers have, including the right to earn overtime pay, something home care workers currently don’t have.
Check out the statements below from our home care leader, Gail Hamilton, who spoke at the press event, as well as from Sherry Kline, an adult who lives with disabilities. (Also see the National Domestic Workers Alliance for more information).
Statement from Gail Hamilton:
My name is Gail Hamilton and I have served as a home care worker for over 10 years, taking care of both seniors and adults with disabilities.
I have cared for a variety of individuals, many with serious health issues, who rely on my hard work, skill, and energy to provide them with quality care that allows them to live independently.
I am honored to speak on behalf of all my fellow homecare workers and caregivers in Illinois in support of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, HB 1288.
As a homecare worker, I have to ask, why in the world would a worker like me, who saves the state of Illinois tens of thousands of dollars by keeping senior and those with disabilities out of nursing homes, NOT be entitled to basic labor protections and the right to receive overtime pay? In what universe is that justified?
It is time we remove the stigma of “domestic workers” as being looked down upon, disrespected, treated unfairly, and insulted by referred to as “The Help”, or as “babysitters” or “maids”.
It’s time that domestic workers came out of the shadows and received the acknowledgment that we deserve.
This is the 21st Century – and it’s time that our laws kept up with the times.
We are not shadows. We are people.
We are not ghosts to be looked past. We are human beings.
We are workers performing important, vital, necessary and demanding jobs.
And it means we should be treated with the sense of fairness, decency, respect and integrity that we would give to any other worker and caregiver.
It is time that domestic workers be given our rightful place at the table, and recognized for our contribution to the families we serve, the communities we support, and the local economy that we strengthen.
On behalf of homecare workers across Illinois, I urge the State Senate to pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to empower all low-wage workers and to give us the basic workplace protections and due process that every other worker has earned.
Statement from Sherry Kline:
My name is Sherry Kline.
As someone who lives with a disability I work extremely hard for my low-wage.
But my time, and energy, and labor is not respected.
I am paid UNDER minimum wage.
People with disabilities are still treated unfairly. And there continues to be a stigma that my work is somehow less valuable than others.
This has got to change.
But as someone who has felt the pain of being disrespected, not paid a fair wage, or given basic workplace protections, I am honored to speak today.
I’m here to call upon the legislature to pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, HB 1288.
Although this bill won’t impact me directly, there are tens of thousands of domestic workers who need these protections and the right to earn overtime for their labor. Who can possibly be against this bill?
Caregivers and home care providers are workers and they deserve the same respect and fairness that any other worker gets.
Caregiving are some of the most important, and necessary jobs in our community.
And as someone who benefits from home care assistance it is critical that we retain a good and effective workforce. We must give them the reasons to continue working in home care by recognizing their worth.
As someone who has felt stigmatized and look past because I live AND WORK, with a disability, I hope this bill passes today.
Because it’s time that we finally give home care and childcare providers, and domestic workers their rightful place at the table with a sense of respect and fairness.