Home Care Workers Rally for Good Union Jobs and Quality Care for All Working Families at General Assembly Special Session
Richmond, VA – Frontline Home Care workers rallied outside the General Assembly, welcoming legislators back to Richmond for the special session, and calling on them to fund good union jobs for care workers and quality home care for all Virginia families in the state budget.
Home Care workers help older adults and people with disabilities live healthy and independent lives at home and in the community. By keeping Virginians out of nursing homes and other institutional settings, home care workers save lives and save the state over $1 billion every year in the Medicaid budget. Unfortunately, low pay and a near total lack of benefits result in high turnover rates and make it difficult for families to recruit and retain care workers. 90% of Virginia Home Care workers are women, 65% are Black, brown and API, and 19% are immigrants.
“We are here today to talk with legislators to let them know that home care workers are going to be seen, that we’re going to be heard, and that we’re demanding $15 an hour for the important work we do,” said Athena Jones, a home care worker from Hampton Roads and Home Care Vice Chair of SEIU Virginia 512. “The reality is that Home Care workers do important, visceral work, often without even a thank you. But we do it because we know people deserve quality care. In turn, home care workers deserve better pay and benefits, and legislators in Richmond have the power to change that.”
Lahera Brown, a Home Care worker from Farmville, told the crowd how she became a care worker for her grandmother, who had been a care worker herself, during the pandemic. “I quit my profession and took a pay cut because I needed to be there for her. As I worked during the pandemic as a home care worker, the low pay and lack of benefits made it very hard. Now, my daughters want to be care workers, but I don’t want them to have to face the same challenges their mother and great-grandmother had to fight. So, to our legislators: remember that Virginians are counting on you.”
“I’ve been doing home care for over 30 years. I’ve watched my grandkids grow up, but I’ve never been able to take a vacation with them because of the low pay,” said Joy Barnes, a Home Care worker from Richmond. “I have to work 3 jobs just to make ends meet. I go to the grocery store and only have $25 to spend. Home Care workers have always been essential, even if we’re not treated as essential. So, we are here to be recognized, to be seen, and to win $15 and a union!”
Home Care workers have united together in SEIU to fight for fair pay and benefits, quality care, and union rights for all workers. They will continue to organize and work with legislators to pass a budget which invests in working families.
For more information, visit seiuva.org
SEIU Virginia 512 represents Home Care workers and county and city workers across Virginia. United in a belief that there is dignity in work, we are dedicated to delivering quality public services and fighting for good jobs for all people. We believe that all working people deserve the right to join a union and bargain for a better future for us all.