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On FLSA Anniversary, Home Care Workers Remain Excluded

June 28, 2012

June 25 marked the 74th anniversary of the signing of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (D).

The historic law established a wide range of progressive labor regulations, including the establishment of a federal minimum wage as well as time-and-a-half pay for overtime hours.

Home care workers, however, are excluded from those protections.

Several organizations, including PHI, are encouraging long-term care stakeholders to voice their opposition to this exclusion by signing an online petition.

In December, President Obama announced his intention to include home care workers in the basic wage protections outlined by FLSA.

A public-comment period resulted in 26,000 comments, with 19,000 in favor of the change.

Keeping the Pressure On

The online petition implores the federal government to work quickly to “end the exclusion now and start treating these workers with the respect they deserve.”

“This is a critical juncture,” said PHI National Policy Director Steve Edelstein. “The response during the comment period was impressive, but we need to keep this issue front and center to ensure that this Administration completes the job by issuing a final rule narrowing the companionship exemption.

“Home care workers should not have to wait any longer for the same protections most workers have enjoyed since the New Deal,” Edelstein said.

An op-ed published June 28 in the San Jose Mercury News supports that argument. In it, Sascha Bittner, an activist for people with disabilities, writes about the importance of home care workers to the movement for independent living. She reminds readers of the importance of supporting one another’s struggles for respect and dignity.

More information about home care workers and FLSA can be found at PHI’s Campaign for Fair Pay home page.

– by Matthew Ozga

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