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Tell the President to End the Fair Labor Standards Exemption for Home Care Workers

WHEREAS:

Home care workers across the nation are considered second-class citizens because they are not eligible for overtime pay due to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which excluded domestic workers; and

WHEREAS:
In 1974, the FLSA was amended to include domestic workers but excluded home care workers because they were considered “companionship services to individuals who because of age or disability are unable to care for themselves”; and

WHEREAS:
In 1974, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) considered home care workers successors of the “companionship exemption” even if they were employed not by private families, but by home care agencies; and

WHEREAS: 
In 2007, the United States Supreme Court upheld the DOL exemption.  Home care workers are still considered companions, not employees, and are still denied FLSA protections; and

WHEREAS:
In most states, home care workers are trained and certified and work long, hard hours caring for tens of thousands of the nation’s elderly and infirm clients, saving billions in hospital, hospice and nursing home costs; and

WHEREAS:
The multi-billion dollar home care industry is largely funded by Medicaid dollars, where for-profit organizations and not-for-profit agencies largely pocket funding that should go directly to home care workers as overtime pay; and

WHEREAS:
The number of home care workers, 800,000 nationally, now surpasses the number of nursing home workers, while retention levels in many communities are low due to the lack of health care, livable wages and the lack of overtime pay; and

WHEREAS:
In the 21st century, home care workers should not have a second-class status, but stand on equal footing with other trained and certified occupations.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:
That AFSCME and its affiliates continue our efforts to educate and create a new perspective on the need for home care work for the public and the Congress; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:
AFSCME and its affiliates continue our efforts asking the President and the Secretary of Labor to lead an effort to end the companionship exemption, which would develop greater stability in this industry, stabilize retention rates, create new training and functions to increase job service capabilities and allow workers to consider this industry sustainable for long-term career goals; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED:
That AFSCME and its affiliates campaign nationwide for the federal Medicaid program and state Medicaid programs to make adjustments in reimbursement rates for publicly-financed programs and to provide subsidy of care for private-pay services through changes in the tax code.
 
 
SUBMITTED BY: 
Elizabeth Studdivant, President
Elma Phillips, Secretary
AFSCME Local 389, Council 1707
New York