AG James and PA Williams launch “Fair Pay for Home Care” amid worker shortage

Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams
Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams (Photo by Tsubasa Berg)

Labor shortages are harming every industry, and Attorney General Letitia James is taking action to assure that fair pay brings workers back.

On Tuesday, Dec. 14, she launched the “Fair Pay for Home Care” campaign with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, in a state and city partnership that includes data analysis and legislation that furthers their cause. According to Mercer HPA, New York is facing the worst home care labor shortage in America. 

The proposed Fair Pay for Home Care legislation would enact provisions to provide minimum wages for home care aides; requires at least 150% of minimum wage or other set minimum; and directs the commissioner of health to set regional minimum rates of reimbursement for home care aids under medicaid and managed care plans.

The New York Caring Majority released data in partnership with CUNY Graduate Center on the effect of an act the AG and PA are promoting, which aims to raise home care wages. 

Those findings show that increasing wages benefit workers of color and women the most. 

“Despite their tireless work, these New Yorkers – primarily women and women of color – are chronically underpaid and undervalued. It’s time we treat them with the same respect and dignity they generously offer our seniors and our most vulnerable by passing the Fair Pay for Home Care Act. Our way out of this pandemic and our path to economic recovery depends on it,” said James.

Williams added that because budgeting is a reflection of local government values, the state should not leave them in poverty, especially because of the work that home care workers had to perform during the pandemic when the elderly were most at risk. 

“The pandemic has shown how critical it is to be able to receive high-quality care in our homes, and laid bare the state’s failure to support the people doing that work – as we recover from the pandemic, we can’t allow this crisis to continue,” the Public Advocate said. 

According to a press release, the Fair Pay for Home Care Act would 181,000 new jobs for women of color over the next decade, and 250,000 jobs for women. It currently has support from 33 state senators and 79 assembly members.

“Our elders and people living with disabilities deserve to receive the care they need at home. But right now, New York is facing a dangerous and costly home care crisis. We must pass the Fair Pay for Home Care Act to raise the wages of the home care workforce and create hundreds of thousands of new, quality home care jobs,” said State Senator Julia Salazar (D-Brooklyn). 

Assemblymember Yuh-line Niou (D-Manhattan) added that about 25% of home care workers are living in poverty, with a median salary of $24,000. “There is no reason why over half of home care workers are forced to rely on state assistance programs like SNAP to keep their families fed,” Niou said.

“They deserve pay for the full 24 hours, including potential overtime,” she added. 

The campaign to pass the bill launched with public events in NYC, Syracuse, Hudson Valley, Schoharie County and Long Island.

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