For Immediate Release
Meghan Finegan, Meghan.Finegan@seiu.org, 617-283-8597
Home Care Workers’ Fight for $15 Gains Momentum with Obama Administration Win On Wage, Overtime Protections
More than 2 million home care workers ‘invisible no more’
WASHINGTON - The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a unanimous decision today reversing a recent district court stay and upholding the rule issued by the Department of Labor ensuring federal minimum wage and overtime protections for home care workers in all 50 states under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Over the past year alone, nearly 50,000 home care workers have united with SEIU, with hundreds of thousands more calling for $15 per hour wage and gaining the attention of presidential candidates, senior advocates, and everyday Americans. Today, their fight for equality and fair wages gained strength with the Court’s ruling that upheld decades-overdue changes to the FLSA.
“Today’s ruling means that the women and men who care for seniors and people with disabilities must be valued and respected. There’s no basis for discriminating against home care workers or holding us back anymore,” said Jacquelyn McGonigle of Denver, Colorado. “We are no longer invisible.”
When the Fair Labor Standards Act was created, people who worked in domestic settings—primarily women of color—were excluded from most of the protections the law provided for other working people. Since the Obama administration proposed extending these basic protections to this largely female and vastly underpaid workforce in 2013, home care workers have gone from fighting opposition from industry trade groups and for-profit companies to leading a national movement to ensure working women in one of the fastest growing healthcare roles are paid $15 an hour.
“This is an enormous step forward for home care workers and for our country. We are closing the sad chapter of racial discrimination that was ingrained in the Fair Labor Standards Act and ensuring that 2 million home care workers now have the same protections the vast majority of Americans have at work,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “Now, we are calling on Americans, senior and disability rights advocates to join us in our movement to make sure all home care workers earn a living wage.”
Thousands of home care workers joined in actions and rallies around the country on April 15, calling on members of Congress and elected officials to take a stand for a living wage and a union for home care workers. Since then, the movement has exploded, especially in states where home care workers are paid extremely low wages, including Georgia, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and Ohio. In late June, 35,000 Massachusetts home care workers became the first in the nation to win $15 an hour starting wage in their state contract.
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With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers—not just corporations and CEOs—benefit from today's global economy.