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Home Care Workers Around the Country Demand Higher Wages

September 4, 2014

Home care workers joined fast food workers in a cross-country protest for better wages on September 4.

In at least six major cities — Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Seattle — home care workers demonstrated alongside fast food employees to demand a $15-an-hour wage and to push for unionization, the New York Times reported.

Dozens of workers nationwide, including at least 12 in Detroit, were arrested during the protests.

Throughout the day, protestors and advocates for low-wage workers used social media to voice their support for the $15-an-hour wage using hashtags such as #HomeCare15 and #StrikeFastFood.

Service Employees International Union, which represents many home care workers across the country, helped to organize the protests.

Uniting Low-Wage Workers

In Boston, state senator Pat Jehlen joined the rally for home care and fast food workers. She noted that home care workers are paid poverty-level wages for the crucial task of maintaining the dignity and independence of elders and people with disabilities.

Yet, Jehlen said, “We pay more to car mechanics.”

Fast food workers have staged regular demonstrations and strikes for higher wages since 2012, but today’s effort to include home care workers represented a new step toward solidarity for the low-wage workforce as a whole, said Robert Hiltonsmith, a senior policy analyst at Demos.

“Home health care workers are facing the same kinds of challenges as fast-food workers and as workers at Walmart,” Hiltonsmith told the Huffington Post. “Unless we have a radical change in our country’s jobs policy, for better or worse, these are the jobs of the near future.”

A Growing Effort

The effort to secure living wages for traditionally low paying jobs has made gains in recent months.

In June, Seattle enacted landmark legislation that will gradually raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Additionally, 10 states and Washington, DC, have passed minimum-wage raises during the 2014 legislation session, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The national median wage for home health aides in the U.S. was just $10.10 last year, while personal care aides earned a median wage of just $9.67, according to information in the PHI State Data Center.

— by Matthew Ozga

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