Home Care Workers Nationwide Rally for $15 Hourly Wage

Those in the fast-food industry aren’t the only ones fighting for a $15 hourly wage this week. Thursday, thousands of home care workers in 150 cities joined them in their efforts to persuade lawmaker to raise the minimum wage requirement.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has called for home care workers nationwide to join fast-food workers in demonstrating Thursday to show that they can’t wait any longer for companies like McDonald’s to raise their pay.

In cities including Chicago, Boston and Atlanta, home care workers joined fast-food employees in the $15 movement. The two professions have a lot in common, Lilia Coredero, a home care worker from Lansing, Ill., told SEIU.

“We work hard, in one of the nation’s fastest-growing industries, for low pay that makes it impossible for us to care for our own families,” she said. “Now we have something else in common: we’re both part of the growing movement for $15 and we won’t stop until we win.”

Home care workers, along with personal care aides, rank among the top jobs projected for immense growth in the coming years as the population ages, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Between 2012 and 2022, the employment growth for home health aides is projected to grow by 48.5%, just 0.3% less than the projected growth for personal care aides. Additionally, the Bureau expects that over 580,000 jobs for personal care aides will be created in the decade through 2022—the most out of any of America’s fastest-growing jobs.

The debate of whether or not home care workers should be required to join unions has been a hot topic this summer.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a landmark decision exempting home care workers in Illinois from having to join or pay union dues. The 5-4 ruling in the case, Harris v. Quinn, upheld the First Amendment, which prohibits the collection of an agency fee from personal assistants in the state’s Rehabilitation Program who don’t want to support or join a union.

Last week, thousands of home care workers in Minnesota voted to create their own union, with a finally tally reading 3,543 in favor and 2,306 opposed, as reported by the state’s Bureau of Mediation Services.

“Now more than ever, Americans are not waiting for change, we are coming together and rising up to demand it,” said International President of SEIU Mary Kay Henry in a statement the week of the election. “Nowhere is that change more overdue or more urgent than within home care.”

The historic election organized by SEIU was Minnesota’s largest labor organizing effort since the Great Depression, however, despite the “victory,” as it might be called by some, concerns have lingered.

Following the vote, nine state-subsidized homed care workers sued the SEIU and Minnesota state officials, arguing that the law that authorizes unionization votes for in-home care woekrs and day care providers is unconstitutional because it violates their right of free political expression and association.

Also on the opposition, the National Right to Work Foundation, an organization that strives to eliminate coercive union power and compulsory unionism, looks to throw a wrench in the cogs of the movement with plans to re-file a motion for an injunction against the law now that the union is authorized.

On Thursday, workers will strike in every region of the country, SEIU stated in a release.

Since the global fast food strike in May 2014, the movement has spread throughout the U.S., with workers walking off their jobs for the first time in Tucson, Ariz.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Rochester, N.Y.’ and Little Rock, Ark.

Written by Jason Oliva

Jason Oliva