SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania President Matthew W. Yarnell’s statement on President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan
This afternoon, members of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania rallied in Pittsburgh to listen to President Joe Biden announce the details of his American Jobs Plan. His words had special meaning for caregivers, in particular, homecare workers:
“For too long, caregivers, who are disproportionately women and women of color and immigrants, have been unseen, underpaid, and undervalued. This plan, along with the American Family Plan, changes that — with better wages, benefits, and opportunities for millions of people who will be able to get to work in an economy that works for them.”
The President intends to deliver on his commitment. He’s calling on Congress to put $400 billion toward expanding access to quality, affordable home- and community-based care for our aging relatives and people with disabilities. These investments will help hundreds of thousands of Americans finally obtain the long-term services and support they need while creating new jobs and offering caregiving workers a long-overdue raise, stronger benefits, and an opportunity to organize or join a union and collectively bargain.
Research shows that increasing pay for direct care workers greatly enhances financial security, improves productivity, and increases the quality of care offered. One study shows that increased pay for care workers prevents deaths, reduces the number of health violations, and lowers the cost of preventative care.
President Biden understands that caregiving work is an integral part of our national infrastructure. When roads, bridges, and airports crumble, our economy falters. In the same way, if working people cannot rely on affordable and quality care for their loved ones, then families must face the choice of a potential wage earner staying home or someone suffering without the support they desperately need. Just as our society depends on safe and modern physical infrastructure, our communities need quality care infrastructure to thrive.
Today in Pennsylvania, most homecare workers earn less than $15 per hour with no benefits. Now it feels that for the first time, a US President sees caregivers and acknowledges them as essential workers. This bold plan will go a long way to lifting tens of thousands of working women out of poverty and will help close the racial wealth gap that scars our communities.
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania will not rest until Congress adopts the American Jobs Plan and invests in caregiving.