But despite this burgeoning need, home care workers are paid, on average, about $16,200 a year, and one in six lives below the poverty line.
Just as we need good union jobs to repair and build our roads and bridges, we need good union jobs to take care of our society’s most vulnerable. If we burn out these workers with low wages and long hours, our loved ones who need care will also pay the price.
The $400 billion investment outlined in Biden’s American Jobs Plan would allow aging and disabled Americans to stay in their homes, rather than having to move into expensive and potentially dangerous for-profit nursing homes.
The plan would also let home care workers, more than half of whom are Black and immigrant women, to bargain collectively to improve wages and benefits.
But as Congress works to strike up a bipartisan deal on infrastructure, Biden’s historic $400 billion proposal has seemingly fallen by the wayside, in favor of physical infrastructure. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has said she supports investing in the care economy but it is “not infrastructure” and “should be considered separately.”
Not surprisingly, two issues left out of the bipartisan infrastructure deal are climate change and the care economy, both areas where those in power delay taking essential action. Similar to how we are exhausting the planet through fracking, mining and pollution, we are exhausting care workers by making them work long hours for poverty wages.