On April 15, Pennsylvania home care attendants joined tens of thousands of nursing home workers, retail workers, fast food workers, adjunct professors and other low-wage workers in the largest global mobilization yet in the Fight for $15 movement.
On the streets of Philadelphia, attendants marched behind a “Home Care Workers Fight 4 15” banner. And while marching for higher wages for all workers, we also took another step in our movement to change home care in Pennsylvania for the better.
The 4/15 day of action came midway through the historic election of home care workers that’s wrapping up on April 23. Home care attendants statewide are voting on whether to unite for a voice so we can advocate for improvements like affordable health care and better pay.
“Ten dollars an hour is just not enough to support a family,” says Philadelphia home care attendant Lisa Savage. In 2013, the median hourly wage for Pennsylvania home care workers was $10.23. “Fair pay is one of the many reasons I’m voting YES for United Home Care Workers of PA,” says Savage.
Despite the valuable service home care attendants provide to seniors and people with disabilities, home care workers are struggling. State statistics show that our median wage is 40 percent less than the median wage for all other occupations in the state.
These wages are far below the self-sufficiency standard (defined as high enough to support oneself without public assistance) in virtually every county in Pennsylvania.
A wage increase would not only help home care workers. It would also benefit our consumers by reducing turnover and improving continuity of care.
With each new action we take, home care workers — along with other low-wage workers — are changing the public debate to say that no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.