Union launches campaign promoting higher wages for home health care workers – Times Union

Home health aide Lisia Colegrove serves breakfast to client Thomas Wells. The nation’s largest health care union is launching an extensive campaign in February 2022 to advocate for higher wages for workers. 
ALBANY — The largest health care union in the country is launching an extensive campaign to advocate for higher wages for home health care workers in New York. 
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is releasing a series of ads on social media, TV and radio promoting the passage of The Fair Pay for Home Care Act, a piece of legislation that would raise the minimum wage for home health care workers to $22.50 an hour. Aides are currently paid between $13 and $15 an hour.
The project reportedly cost almost a million dollars. The first two advertisements are set to run on Tuesday and will feature the stories of workers and their clients. 
In a statement, Lilieth Clacken, a home health aide, said the low wages leave many workers feeling undervalued and abandoned by the state. 
“Home health care is not an easy job. The commute is difficult – whether it snows or there’s sunshine, you have to be there,” she said. 
“Without us, without me, the person cannot survive for the day. We were doing this work before the pandemic. We will be doing this work after the pandemic. So we ask the governor and Albany to raise our wages permanently.”
Approximately 17 percent of home care jobs remain unfilled, according to a press release distributed by the organization. Advocates argue that increasing payment would eliminate that problem and if left unresolved, it’s possible the state would not be able to meet the rising demand of people needing care.
Researchers suggest about 26,510 new aides need to be hired every year to assist the number of people that will require assistance as they reach retirement age, the release stated. 
“This campaign is a chance for patients, family members, labor leaders and advocates to stand together with home care workers, and call for a sustainable and permanent pay raise,” Rona Shapiro, executive vice president of 1199 SEIU’s home care division said in a written statement. 
“Too many of our workers have reached a breaking point where they have to choose between barely scraping by to do a job they love, or leaving the profession altogether. We can’t afford to lose one more home care worker to low wages. We cannot afford to be silent.”
Michelle Del Rey is a Capitol Bureau reporter for the Times Union and a member of the 2021-2023 Hearst Fellowship class. Before joining the Times Union, she worked as a freelance reporter, writing for national publications including the Guardian, BuzzFeed News and Kinfolk Magazine. In 2020, she graduated with honors from the University of Westminster in London, England, where she studied journalism. She is originally from Long Beach, California and speaks Spanish. You can reach her at Michelle.DelRey@hearst.com.


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