All across Maryland and DC, 1199 United Healthcare Workers East is working to renew the social contract that when you work hard in America that you are able to live with dignity and provide a better future for your children. This is a collective obligation. We cannot allow people who work hard at sometimes two or three jobs to be trapped in poverty, while CEO pay, Wall Street bonuses and tax breaks for the super-rich reach into the stratosphere.

One in five Baltimore jobs is in healthcare. So everybody in Baltimore wins when caregivers have good, family-sustaining jobs. Patients are ensured quality care and the city’s middle class expands. But too many Baltimore healthcare workers are paid poverty wages and cannot afford healthcare for their own children. When caregivers are denied a living wage that hurts the whole city.

In DC, homecare workers are have struggled with agencies shut down for fraud, agencies paying them late or not paying them at all. Agencies have violated the law by not paying the living wage and by not providing paid sick days. In addition, DC homecare workers do not receive overtime, vacation or dependable hours so that they can provide quality care to their clients and also care for their families.

That collective obligation and need for quality care are why 1199 is proud to stand with DC homecare workers—as well as with all workers. Homecare is the fastest growing job in this country and these workers care for our elders, our other family members or friends who are unable to care for themselves.

All of these labor rights are part of that social contract that gives back to the community. The more money that homecare workers earn—or that any of us earn—the more money there is to spend in our communities to lift our neighborhoods, families and the entire economy.

But we cannot enforce that contract without unions and without social justice. Organized labor is vital if America has any hope of having a strong future. We cannot have a strong future with falling wages, with workers denied basic labor rights and protections. We cannot have a strong future if we do not have good housing, education, access to quality food and water and public safety. We cannot have a strong future if we fail to reinvest our tax dollars into people, communities and vital infrastructure.

We invite all workers and communities in Maryland and DC to be with us on the frontlines for quality care, good jobs and social justice for all.