More than 125,000 home care providers are a part of AFSCME. I am one of them. I became a home care worker after the birth of my first son. He was born premature and the doctors indicated that he would not be able to walk or talk. I became a home care provider to make sure he got all of the care he required and that he defied the odds.
I was inspired by the activism of other home care providers and I joined in their cause. I have never looked back. And today, my son is walking, talking and getting a college education.
But my story is not unique. All of us, in an instant with illness or injury, can suddenly need help with the most basic task of daily life.
America is aging. Fast. But our systems are not ready to provide the supportive services that seniors and their families need. We need to pull together to meet the needs of seniors, of those with disabilities, of young people who need home care.
On Mother's Day, it is worth remembering that the vast majority of these workers are women. They are mothers with families of their own. Yet they work long hours, toiling in a way that is intensely physical and personal. And too often, they do it without a living wage, or benefits, or training.
Wages for home care workers are low and keep families near poverty.
These low wages and poor working conditions erode the stability of this workforce and threaten the very independence of millions of Americans who have disabilities but wish to remain in their own homes rather than moving to medical institutions.
For seniors and persons with disabilities, their quality of life and safety depends on the reliability and the skill of the home care worker. Their access to services that keeps them independent depends on a stable and committed workforce.
The need for home care workers is dramatically increasing with each passing year. Yet, low wages, long hours and no benefits will continue to drive more workers out of these important jobs. The tragic result will be more Americans with disabilities denied the services they need.
That is simply unacceptable. This Mother's Day, the members of my union, AFSCME, pledge to work to improve conditions for home care workers and enhance the lives of all the people we serve. We need to change this nation's economic culture and policies to reflect the dignity and respect deserved by those who receive home care services and those who provide them.