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Essential Work, Disposable Workers: Why Home Care Workers Need Labor Protections

This Labor Day, as the coronavirus crisis continues to grip the United States, it is more important than ever to stop and pay tribute to the contributions of workers by enacting policies to increase wages, provide benefits, and ensure labor and employment protections. In the past six months, the nation has seen societal and economic transformations previously not thought possible. And yet, in the face of new and unique challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of essential workers continue to provide the services the country needs most.

Among these individuals are more than 2 million home care workers—home health aides, personal care aides, and nursing assistants—who provide in-home and community-based support to older adults and people with disabilities. This low-wage workforce is overwhelmingly female and is disproportionately made up of Black women and other women of color; moreover, nearly 1 in 3 home care workers are immigrants. Yet despite the vital services they provide, home care workers are excluded from a variety of worker protections, so they often lack the collective power needed to demand better wages and working conditions and to stay safe during the pandemic. Policy interventions are needed to ensure that these workers receive the compensation and protections they deserve.

The above excerpt was originally published in CAP Action. Please click here to view the full column.