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Home care workers should be allowed to form a union

Home care workers deserve the same right as other workers to form a union, and right now we don’t have that right under the law.  

The author with Jayla
Courtesy of the author

I am proud to be a home care worker for a 6-year-old little girl named Jayla. Jayla was born with a genetic disorder called Opitz syndrome, has pulmonary hypertension and is deaf. She requires breathing treatments, thickened liquids, help eating, toileting, and help doing many other activities of daily living.  

When I first started as a home care worker, I was offered benefits like health insurance and vacation time. But over the past four years, my pay has been cut, my vacation time taken away, and the health insurance we are offered is minimal.

No longer the option of taking a day off

Now I don’t have the option of taking a day off because I can’t afford to lose out on the money. I recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and because I have no vacation time I was only able to take one week off of work after I had a C-section. 

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I have a strong desire to care for others and know that providing care for someone in their home gives the person a sense of independence and dignity, as well additional comfort to be in their own environment. 

I feel very strongly about helping care for Jayla and maintaining the relationship that we have. I have sacrificed financial stability, I live paycheck to paycheck, and I have sacrificed health insurance for my family at times, all because I love caring for Jayla.    

We deserve the same right as other workers

I am working with SEIU to create a statewide Home Care Workers Union because I believe we should not accept the way things are. Home care workers deserve the same right as other workers to form a union, and right now, we don’t have that right under the law.  

I believe that as a society and a community we should care for both young and old, and that we should not only value the ones we care for but also the ones who care for them.

The work I do helps keep Jayla in her home, rather than in a more expensive institution, which saves the state money. Allowing workers the right to form a union would help treat everyone fairly while making smart decisions for a better future.  

Sumer Spika, of St. Paul, provides home health care.

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