2014-2015 DC Homecare Workers and the We Care for DC Campaign
DC homecare workers provide care for the elderly and those with disabilities, allowing them to live with dignity in their own homes. During July 2014, we began organizing for quality care and respect on the job, as well as for unpaid back wages, unpaid sick days, unpaid overtime and other damages. Since then, hundreds of workers have rallied, attended meetings and joined a lawsuit to hold employers accountable. If you are a homecare worker you may be owed years of back wages, unpaid sick time as well as overtime and other damages. Please contact Woodley & McGillivary LLP at 1-866-833-8860 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the 16-day Federal government shutdown, Oct. 1-Oct. 16, paychecks from DC homecare providers bounce forcing many homecare attendants to face hardships. Homecare workers also document increased instances of not being paid properly for all hours worked.
In 2014, the District’s living wage became $13.60; the living wage was $13.40 in 2013, $12.50 in 2012, and $11.75 in 2011. A failure to pay home health aides a living wage, as well as a failure to timely pay home health aides is a violation of the District’s Wage Payment and Collection Law (“WPCL”).
Because of the District of Columbia’s Medicaid fraud investigation, homecare provider agencies are cut off from Medicaid funding. DC homeworkers employed by these agencies are not paid for months while working under the threat from their employers of losing their license if they fail to see clients. At the end of April, DC homecare workers report unpaid wages and other apparent labor violations to the D.C. Department of Employment.
Launch of effort by DC homecare workers and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East to get legal assistance for those who are owed unpaid wages and other benefits. Lawyers tell workers that they are entitled to unpaid wages and compensation if they have not been provided sick time, overtime or have not been paid in a timely manner.
Thanks to the campaign by 1199SEIU DC homecare workers more agencies start obeying the law and paying the city’s living wage of $13.60/hr. Some workers receive a 30 percent pay increase.
The first in a series of lawsuits is filed against the DC homecare agencies. The lawsuit alleges that workers at the three agencies, Health Management, Inc., Nursing Enterprises, Inc. and Vizion One, Inc., were not paid for work, not paid legally owed living wages and overtime pay and not provided paid sick days for a period of as long as three years. In total, the damages for all of the lawsuits could result in more than $150 million in pay to the workers.
Our journey toward justice continues as we secure paid sick days and join other workers in the fight for $15. Even though DC homecare workers should receive seven paid sick days each year, few if any are receiving this benefit, requiring them to go to work sick or stay home and lose wages. So in order to remedy this wrong, home health aides took their case to members of the DC Council and also met with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Hundreds of D.C. homecare workers and their supporters met March 18th in a town hall meeting, which included a keynote speech by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, who brought the crowd to its feet, urging the workers to organize and fight for a living wage, benefits and respect on the job. Additional remarks were made by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, economist Julianne Malveaux, the Rev. Graylan Hagler and Caitlin Connolly of the National Employment Law Project.
DC homecare workers joined in the national day of action for $15 and union. We joined a broad coalition in announcing a city-wide ballot initiative for a $15 an hour minimum wage. The press conference at the Wilson Building was organized by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and also included 32BJ SEIU, as well as the Working Families Organization, Jobs with Justice, the Restaurant Opportunities Center, Jews United for Justice and OUR Walmart. We also held an event at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, where homecare workers told their stories of insufficient pay and benefits. The MLK event also included rousing remarks from the Rev. Graylan Hagler, pastor of the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ and performances by the DC Labor Chorus and vocalist Ayanna Gregory.
DC homecare workers are participating in the national #Take15for15 campaign, being photographed with posters bearing our own messages about the need for a $15 minimum wage.
We are beginning to sign up our co-workers to join 1199SEIU. We don’t want what has happened in DC to homecare workers to ever happen again. We want to raise homecare industry standards in DC so we can provide quality care for our clients, have respect and professionalism on our jobs and care properly for our families.
Is it any wonder that a once-great city today struggles with poverty and broken neighborhoods?
Because 1 in 5 Baltimore jobs is in healthcare, raising living standards for caregivers will expand the middle class, boost the local economy and bring about a revitalization of our city.
Today, Baltimore workers are struggling, especially caregivers
- 21% of all Baltimoreans lived below the poverty level in 2009. (1)
- Baltimore’s caregivers, such as nurse’s aides, make less per hour than the same workers in other major East Coast cities. (2)
- Many caregivers cannot afford healthcare for themselves or their children. The rate of healthcare workers without insurance is 73% higher than for other workers in Maryland. (3)
- Baltimore caregivers are 2.5 times more likely to be on food stamps than other workers in Maryland. (4)
When workers have a voice, our entire city benefits
- Healthcare workers in the U.S. who are in a union make an average of $11,000 more than non-union workers, and are 62% more likely to have employer-provided healthcare. Better jobs for healthcare workers means more stable families with greater resources to stimulate the local economy. (5)
- Female union members earn 34% more than women without a union, and African-American union members earn 29% more than those without one. (6)
- In Baltimore, 250 members at 26 employers have advanced their medical careers by accessing 1199SEIU’s training fund. When workers move up the economic ladder, our whole city benefits.
That’s why we need free & fair union elections
- When hospitals try to stop workers from having a voice, they waste valuable resources on fear campaigns.
- Free and fair union elections keep workers focused on patient care because they allow workers to make up their own minds free from intimidation, in a fair secret ballot vote.
- Join with us! We’re calling on hospital and nursing home CEOs to allow all healthcare workers to vote in fair union elections.
It’s the first step toward a better Baltimore
Citations: SOURCES: 1) US Census American Community survey; 2) Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. FY 2011 October Preliminary Public Use File; 3) U.S, Census Bureau. 2008 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample; 4) U.S, Census Bureau. 2006-2008 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample; 5) Minnesota Population Center. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey, http://cps.ipums.org/cps/; 6) U.S, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Union Membership (Economic News Release). Table 2; www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.t02.html
A Charmed Life?
Baltimore’s healthcare workers are getting shortchanged in comparison to caregivers in other big East Coast cities. Their counterparts in Washington, New York and Philadelphia all make more on average—30 percent more in New York.
Because Baltimore’s caregivers fill one in five jobs in our city, their low pay puts a damper on the whole city’s economy.
And while it’s often assumed that the cost of living is lower in Baltimore, some expenses are actually much higher. The average utility bill here is 22 percent higher than in Philly. It’s 67 percent higher than New York!
And the lower wages in Baltimore make housing harder to afford. Forty-two percent of Baltimore residents pay more than a third of their income for rent.
2012-13 Ads Feature RISING Stars
Ad campaign spotlights Baltimore caregivers reaching new heights in 1199’s training fund
If you asked four year old Jaya Hawkins what she and her mom like to do together, you might be surprised to hear her say, “homework.” Jaya’s mom, Liselle Hawkins, is an 1199er and – thanks to her studies with 1199SEIU’s Training and Upgrading Fund – a new CNA at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
Originally a dietary worker at GBMC, Hawkins wanted to grow at her facility and work more closely with patients. After seeing her colleagues take classes through the training fund she followed their lead. “My co-worker, Sylvia Landon, became a CNA through the training fund and kept telling me about the classes,” said Hawkins. “School was the furthest thing from my mind but as a mom I have more responsibilities and wanted to set a good example for my daughter by going back to school. Read More
MLK Day Ads Honor Coretta Scott King’s Contribution to Baltimore Caregivers
The Heart of Baltimore campaign is celebrating MLK Day by running a series of ads that honor Coretta Scott King’s historic work with Baltimore caregivers in 1969. The full-page ads, which are running in the Baltimore Sun and four other local papers, recount Mrs. King’s role in helping caregivers in our city win a better life by forming a union.
Click here to see the interactive ad that’s running on BaltimoreSun.com as well as the print ads that are running in the Baltimore Sun, the Afro-American, the Baltimore Times, the City Paper and the Business Journal.
Heart of Baltimore Ads Are On the Air and In the Streets
March 2010 Ad Campaign Highlights Healthcare Workers
The Heart of Baltimore is beating strong on the city’s streets and airwaves. See and hear our ads.
Listen to our Radio Ads
Our 60-second ads have run on WBAL 1090 AM, 92Q, Magic 95.9, FM 105.7–The Fan, Heaven 600 and Mix 106. We’re also sponsoring programming on WYPR 88.1 FM and WEAA 89.7.
Full Page Newspaper Ads
Since our campaign began, we’ve run full-page ads in the Baltimore Sun, Afro-American and The Baltimore Times.
The massive message that’s on Baltimore’s highways and byways.
Bus Shelter Billboards
A sign of the times in Penn Station, City Hall and 35 more sites around the city.
Read the postcard sent to 40,000 Baltimore-area residents.