Election Day is June 22nd:How to Vote for Andrew

Election Day is June 22nd:How to Vote for Andrew

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Jobs ∙ Racial Equity

Justice for Home Care Workers and the Growing Workforce of Care Providers

The care economy is growing as more people are living longer and rely on long-term care in their homes, as well as in long term care facilities. In 2018, there were approximately 440,000 home health aides and personal care workers in New York State. That number is projected to rise to over 700,000 by 2028, driven by employment in home care agencies, private households, and public programs like the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP), allowing New Yorkers covered by Medicaid to choose a friend or family member to provide them with paid care. The New York State Department of Labor estimates that home health aides would see the second-highest projected increase in the state.

Home health aides provide essential services to the most vulnerable. From people with disabilities who require regular, consistent support to elders aging in place, home care workers are critical to keeping people healthy and safe. However, low pay and the physical demands of the work leave make it so that the demand for home care workers exceeds the supply. A 2018–2019 statewide survey of home care agencies found that, on average, 17 percent of home care positions were left unfilled due to staff shortages.

Home care workers are disproportionately women of color who are typically paid $15/hour for grueling, emotional - but absolutely critical - jobs. Domestic work has long been devalued, and yet our lives depend on it. As organizations like the National Domestic Workers Alliance have voiced for years, investing in care work is akin to investing in our nation’s infrastructure. Our nation must ultimately work towards universal family care, a new system similar to Social Security or Medicare, in which all Americans can pay into a national fund and pay for childcare, elder care or care for people with disabilities at whatever point it is needed in their lives. In the interim, New York must take steps to solve for the inadequacies in our current home care system that will protect this critical workforce, and in turn, those receiving care. 

State Calls to Action

Support A3145A, Ending the Mandatory 24-Hour Workday for Home Health Aides 

New York State must end the mandatory 24-hour workday for home health aides, and instead make it clear that home health aides work two 12-hour split shifts where home care workers are fully compensated for each hour worked. If New York State does not fundamentally reform home care to ensure that everyone gets the care they need to remain in their homes with dignity, New Yorkers will continue to be left without care, or may be forced into nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, contrary to their wishes to age in place. A3145A would ensure that people in need of 24-hour care will have home health aides who work 12-hour shifts, without reducing the hours of authorized care needed.

Raise Wages for Home Care Workers 

A March 2021 study of the home care industry in New York State found that the current median annual earnings of home care workers is only $22,000. In New York City, where 75% of home care workers live and work, the median hourly wage of home care workers is only $14.08. Labor shortages in the home care industry are serious, and home care advocates and providers fear continued unmet needs. The State must increase annual wages of home care workers to incentivize sustainable employment for the long-term.

Enforce New York’s Domestic Workers Bill of Rights 

New York was the first state to pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, but workers in this difficult-to-reach industry continue to need more support from the State to effectively enforce the law. New York State must conduct full oversight of its implementation of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, and provide direct resources to organizations working with domestic workers to ensure that workers know their rights and can seek help if their rights are violated. 

Create a Statewide Domestic and Caregivers Labor Standards Board 

Following the model of the Seattle Domestic Worker Labor Standards Board, New York can lead the way in creating a statewide Domestic Worker Labor Standards Board to continue to iterate on policy in the growing care industry. A Board with representation of workers, those who benefit from care and the home health aid industry can provide continued guidance to the state from directly impacted stakeholders. 

City Calls to Action

Pass Int 339-A, Expanding New York City’s Human Rights Law to Include Protections for Domestic Workers 

New York City has one of the most robust human rights laws and worker protections at the municipal level in the country. However, domestic workers, who are typically working for a single employer, are left out of many protections. Employees of employers with fewer than four employees total are not protected by the prohibitions against discrimination in employment, apprentice training programs, religious observance in the employment context, unemployment status, disparate impact discrimination in the employment context, and unlawful discrimination against victims of domestic violence, sex offenses or stalking. Also, employees of employers with fewer than four employees total are not protected by the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Int 339-A would change the definition of “employer” to provide these protections for domestic workers, further strengthening our Human Rights Law and ensuring that the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protections puts the needs of domestic workers front and center.

A Yang administration would fully support the passage of Int 339-A, and similar legislation that protects domestic workers and other care providers.

Create a Portable Benefits Fund for Workers

Administered by the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protections, the New Benefits Fund will support expanded worker protections and create a larger pool of workers to negotiate lower premiums for benefits that would benefit a growing class of independent workers. The New Benefits Fund will provide wage and social safety protections to a group of essential workers who are traditionally underserved and vulnerable. The New Benefits Act would acknowledge the reality that work has changed for thousands of New Yorkers and support the creation of these flexible jobs by ensuring every worker in NYC has access to the protections they need to survive, especially in a post-pandemic City. Modeled after Philadelphia’s Bill of Rights and New York State’s Black Car Fund, the New Benefits Fund will pool resources to aggregate benefits, such as: paid time off, workers compensation, healthcare subsidies and more.

Read more about Andrew Yang’s support for independent and freelance workers here.

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