November 10, 2015
By Tara Jessup
New York, NY – Today, Tuesday, November 10th, thousands of homecare and healthcare workers joined fast-food and other low-wage workers to rally and march in support of the $15 New York State minimum wage.
Homecare workers perform crucial work caring for seniors and people with disabilities, but they only make $10 an hour, and many are mired in poverty and forced to rely on Medicaid, food stamps and public housing to survive. There are also thousands of hospital, nursing home, clinic and pharmacy workers throughout New York State that make less than $15 an hour.“I’m trying to raise four children on $10 an hour, so sometimes I have to work seven day weeks and occasionally 22 hour work days,” said Lisa Johnson, a 45-year-old homecare worker from Queens.
“I have no choice, I can’t think about sleep, I have to do whatever it takes for my children. Even though I do important work caring for seniors, my kids are on Medicaid and sometimes I’m forced to rely on food stamps to feed them.”Not only would a $15 minimum wage help working families, but also economists say that it would boost the overall economy because working people are likely to immediately spend the money on school supplies, food and other essentials. This would help address economic inequality in New York, one of the most unequal states in the country. New York City has the most billionaires of any city in the nation, according to Forbes Magazine.Raising the minimum wage would also promote the quality and continuity of patient care for New Yorkers. When healthcare workers have poverty-level wages, it hurts recruitment and retention of qualified staff and therefore patient care suffers.
“Ultimately, the Fight For $15 is about what kind of state we want New York to be. What is our moral character?” said George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. “Are we a place where the lucky take all, and the left out have nothing? Or are we going to be a place where all New Yorkers – working people, immigrants, students, artists, musicians, seniors – can build a life with security, fairness, opportunity and dignity? In one of the richest states in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, this is the central moral question we have to confront.”