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Coalition Launches Petition Asking DOL to Ensure Fair Pay for Home Care Workers

May 24, 2012

A petition asking the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to extend basic wage protections to home care workers has been launched at the website Change.org.

“It’s time to end the outdated federal regulation that treats these workers as second class citizens by excluding them from the basic [minimum wage and overtime] protections that apply to almost every other worker,” the petition says.

Launched by a coalition of organizations — including PHI, the Direct Care Alliance, Caring Across Generations, the National Employment Law Project, and others — the petition is aiming to accrue 2,000 signatures by August 1.

Last December, President Obama announced a proposed regulation that would amend the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) so that home care workers will receive basic wage protections.

During a subsequent public comment period, more than 26,000 comments were submitted to the DOL, approximately three-quarters of which supported the proposed change.

Keeping the Pressure On

The new petition is intended to keep the pressure on the DOL, the Office of Management and Budget, and the White House to issue a final ruling on the proposed regulation before the end of the summer.

Timing is critical.

In 2000, during the Clinton Administration, the DOL issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would have included home care workers in FLSA’s wage protections.

But because these steps took place so late in President Clinton’s second term, the incoming Bush Administration was able to shelve the proposal completely.

The coalition’s petition is an attempt to prevent something similar from happening this year, should Obama be defeated in November.

“We did a great job during the public comment period, but we can’t rest on our laurels,” said PHI National Policy Director Steve Edelstein. “We need to keep working until we have a final ruling in hand, guaranteeing that home care workers are finally recognized for the difficult and important work they do.”

— by Matthew Ozga

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