Lawmaker goes to bat for home care workers

WASHINGTON (PAI)–Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., is trying to get the nation’s home health care workers the right to earn at least the minimum wage and overtime.

Following in the footsteps of fellow California Democrat Lynn Woolsey — who tried to get the workers the pay three years ago — Sanchez introduced a bill to overturn a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision saying those workers aren’t covered by the pay law, the Fair Labor Standards Act. Woolsey’s bill went nowhere.

The Service Employees Union supported the elderly New York home health care worker — who has since died — and argued the 2007 case to the justices for her minimum wage and overtime. They lost. SEIU then strongly backed Woolsey’s bill. When Sanchez re-introduced it on July 28, both SEIU and AFSCME supported it.

“Laws should respect all hard working Americans equally,” Sanchez said at a press conference with home health care groups. “No matter whether you sit behind a corporate desk or care for an elderly person in a home, all work has dignity.”

Last year, Sanchez asked Obama Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to issue regulations that could help home health care workers get better wages. But Sanchez said the issue is important enough for legislation, too.

“As the daughter of a father living with Alzheimer’s, I know just how important home care workers are. Yet, every year, home-care aides land on Forbes magazine’s list of the ’25 worst-paying jobs in America,'” Sanchez added.

“Regardless of the work you do, if you do it well, you should be compensated enough to take care of your family and put food on the table,” she concluded.

Photo: (Family Nursing)