Direct-Care Workers in the News
During June, direct-care workers were featured in several major newspaper and radio outlets.
Newsday published an op-ed by PHI President Jodi Sturgeon and National Employment Law Project (NELP) Executive Director Christine Owens on June 12, urging the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to stick to the schedule for implementing its new regulation to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The new rule takes effect on January 1, 2015. The National Association of Medicaid Directors has requested that DOL delay the new regulation for an additional 18 months.
On June 1 the Washington Post ran a front page story that follows Tereza Sedgwick, a 30-year-old single mother who is desperate for a full-time job, through a certified nursing assistant (CNA) training program in an economically depressed town in Ohio. “Opportunity Knocks” reports that Sedgwick’s “hope was placed in the fastest-growing job in America” but the job paid “just better than minimum wage” and the “burnout rates are among the highest of any career.” The article contrasts Sedgwick’s opportunities with that of her mother who attended a career school for computer training in the ’80s, which led to a career that provided economic security.
PHI President Jodi Sturgeon responded to the article in a June 4 letter to the editor. “While these are ‘jobs of the future,’ given the United States’ rapidly aging population, we invest too little as a nation, in terms of training and wages, to ensure a sufficiently skilled and compassionate workforce,” Sturgeon wrote.
The Takeaway interviewed NELP Staff Attorney Sarah Leberstein for a show entitled “Modern Slavery? Domestic Workers Fight for Fairness,” which was broadcast on June 5. Leberstein told host John Hockenberry that extending home care workers the most basic federal labor protections is a huge and critical reform.
The Brian Lehrer Show
Brian Lehrer hosted a show on June 2 about home care in the Bronx, as part of WNYC public radio’s eight-part series on health and health care in the Bronx. Lehrer began by noting that one in seven low-wage workers in New York City is a home care worker. Cooperative Home Care Associates‘ Carmen Zeno, a home care aide, and Ancil Alexander, a peer mentor, along with PHI New York Policy Director Carol Rodat were guests on the show, which highlighted the low wages and emotional toll of home care jobs.
— by Deane Beebe