A home care worker fights for her client — and her profession

By Pete Levine ·

Sabrina Bishop, a care worker in San Diego, California, receives as much joy from her client, Mike, as she gives.

“Mike is at the end stage of Alzheimer’s,” says Bishop. “I support him in showering, giving medication, taking him to appointments, running errands.”

But Bishop does so much more to enrich Mike’s life.

“We laugh a lot. We give a lot of high-fives. We go to concerts. We go to movies. We go to casinos. He enjoys being around people,” says Bishop, a member of United Domestic Workers/AFSCME Local 3930. “There is no quality of life for the client if the provider is not there.”

Despite the vital role that Bishop and tens of thousands of other care workers like her play in the lives of their clients, many of these professionals are barely making a living.

“We only make $17 an hour,” says Bishop. “That’s just a little bit above minimum wage. We get three sick days a year. There’s no vacation. There’s no holiday. And then you go home and try to figure out … how you’re gonna pay your gas and electric. How you’re gonna buy food.”

The answer to some those questions, Bishop has found, lies with her union, UDW. Through her “second family,” Bishop is determined to not only fight for better care for Mike, but for herself and her fellow home care workers.

“UDW has given me that opportunity to work on resolutions, amendments to put in protection for workers,” says Bishop. “And we can fight the struggles that we have together. I’m fighting for the cause of those who are working hard and just wanted to be treated fairly.”

Bishop has taken her story to the state’s capital.

“We let them know our home care providers are essential,” says Bishop.

President Joe Biden is also listening to care workers, issuing an executive order last year to improve their lives and the care economy.

“We’re gonna continue to lace up our boots, put on our green shirts, and we’re gonna keep fighting for dignity, respect, and a livable wage for all domestic workers,” says Bishop.

For that – both care workers and their clients – should be grateful.