Home health workers will join other low-wage workers in a nationwide rally Wednesday to demand that their employers pay a $15 minimum hourly wage. The “Fight for $15” movement, backed by the Service Employees International Union, will hold events in more than 200 cities.
The mean hourly wage for home health aides currently is $10.77, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
One in four home health workers lives in a household with an income below the federal poverty level, according to the Paraprofessional Health Institute, an advocacy group. Many home health workers lack employer-provided health insurance.
Marie Mdamu, a certified nursing assistant who works for the Decatur, Ga.-based Dekalb Community Service Board, said she recently had to forgo heating her home for three months because she was unable to pay the gas bill. “We have not been able to get a wage that is livable,” Mdamu said. “We need the necessities—rent, utilities and food on the table.”
Meanwhile, there's an ongoing battle over the unionization of home health workers. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that home healthcare workers who receive state funding for their services but are employed by a private client cannot be required to pay union membership fees if they decide not to join a union.
Pennsylvania's new Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, recently issued an executive order that could make it easier for “direct-care” aides to unionize in his state. The Pennsylvania Homecare Association and United Cerebral Palsy of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit to block the order.