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NY Times Editorial Board Urges DOL to Not Delay Fair Pay for Home Care Workers

May 20, 2014

A New York Times editorial published on May 16 urges U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and President Obama not to “acquiesce” to the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) by delaying the implementation of the new Department of Labor (DOL) regulation that extends home care workers federal labor protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The final DOL rule on the “companionship exemption” is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2015.

In a recent letter (pdf) to Perez, NAMD requested that DOL hold off on implementing the rule for an additional 18 months — nearly three years since it was published on October 1, 2013.

The Times editorial board calls the 40-year-old rule an “indefensible policy,” adding that “any delay would further the exploitation of home care workers.”

The rule was “researched and analyzed for almost two years before being finalized,” they argue in “No Reason to Delay Fair Wages.” Additionally, states and employers had “ample” time — 15 months — to comply.

“For-profit home care agencies that pay subminimum wages or deny overtime and state Medicaid officers accustomed to balancing their budgets on the backs of underpaid labor will have to get used to paying more,” the editorial says.

A broad coalition of stakeholders, including PHI, direct-care worker organizations, disability and consumer advocates, organized labor, and other worker allies, sent a letter (pdf) to Perez on May 13 expressing strong opposition to any efforts to delay implementation of the final rule.

The New York Times has published several editorials over the last five years in support of federal labor protections for home care workers.

— by Deane Beebe

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