A large group of home care workers, many of whom were old, and their supporters braved the heat on Tuesday to gather at City Hall Park and urge the City Council to end what they see as appalling maltreatment of their fellow employees.
Workers, patients, and their families allege that homecare attendants are often subjected to 24-hour hours with only payment for 12-hour shifts, creating a vicious cycle of abuse that puts patients and carers in danger.
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Representative Christopher Marte of Manhattan’s city council is at the forefront of efforts to end this policy. Surrounded by hundreds of swaying placards calling for an end to the 24-hour workday, Marte exposed his personal investment in the matter.
Marte informed the audience that his mother worked as a house attendant in the Bronx neighborhood of Chester. She cared for a bedridden elderly person while commuting two hours each way.
However, her agency repeatedly told her, “You have to work 24 hours since that’s the only job that’s available for you.” And when I was a kid, my mother would leave on Mondays and I wouldn’t see her again until Thursday. Think of the emotional and physical toll that took on my mother and our family.
The Ain’t I A Woman Campaign was essential in mobilizing workers and bringing to light their plight, which led to the introduction of a law by Marte that would prevent similar exploitation of labor.
And Marte gave some reason to believe that the bill has a shot at becoming law. Two votes short of a majority, the lawmaker reported that 21 council members have signed onto the bill and another four have offered their support.
Many who claim to have endured days of nonstop labor will be relieved if the law is passed. Many of them are people of Asian or Pacific Islander (AAPI) descent and/or have inadequate proficiency in the English language.
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I’ve had trouble sleeping, anxiety, a nervous breakdown, hypertension, and back pain since starting this job. I’ve been prescribed sleep medication and physical therapy. It’s the 24-hour workdays that have made me a patient.
Miss Wang, through a translator, demanded to know why home health aides and nurses had to go through such a “living hell” at the hands of insurance companies and home health care agencies.