Home healthcare workers say they are being exploited: Working 24-hour shifts in some cases, taking care of patients who are homebound.
“When people come to the office and they talk about, ‘you know. All night I can’t sleep. I have to be up with the patient. The patient is in critical care. But I have to be up and I am ill also.’ Who’s benefiting from that? No one,” said State Seantor Roxanne Persaud.
“This is a social justice issue. It’s an economic justice issue. Workers are being paid on average $25,000 a year and we know in a city like New York that is not a living wage. That is not something that is sustainable,” said State Assembly member Harvey Epstein.
Lawmakers have now introduced legislation to end 24-hour shifts and require a maximum of 12 hours split between two workers.
Each worker would then also be limited to working no more than 50 hours a week.
Wednesday’s press conference was held outside the Brown Building in the West Village, site of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in 1911 that killed 146 young women who were barricaded inside a sweatshop.
“Today’s Shirt Waist factory workers are home healthcare workers. Because they are working 24 shifts and they are getting paid for 13 hours. We have a term for that, it’s involuntary servitude. And that is unconscionable and unconstitutional,” said State Assembly member Jo Anne Simon.
This past year in Albany, Democrats were able to pass many of their legislative priorities since they controlled both houses of the state legislature. Bills that had previously been bottled up by Senate Republicans.
They believe this bill focusing on 24-hour home care workers has a solid shot, but the earliest it could be taken up is January 2020.