Home care consumers and workers gathered on Thursday, March 29 to celebrate the formation of CT Home Care United, the first-ever union for Connecticut’s in-home care providers, a new chapter of the state’s largest union of health care workers, District 1199, SEIU. By a margin of 1228 to 365, home care workers made it clear that they want a voice at work and a seat at the decision-making table for their programs. Consumers also heralded the victory as one step toward more stable, reliable care.
“As a consumer of home care services for over 25 years, I’ve seen how the lack of stability and benefits for the work force affects consumers,” said Mary-Kay Webster of Newington. “My ability to remain in the community depends on this work being attractive so people are willing to stay in these jobs. Today’s vote means that we can come together with one voice as workers and consumers to improve and refine programs like mine, so they can continue to exist.”
The vote, completed by mail-in secret ballot, is just one step on workers’ journey toward a voice for quality jobs and quality care. Though almost all American workers have the right under federal law to vote to form a union and bargain a contract if a majority desires, home care workers have faced years of political hurdles to get to this point and still lack the right to bargain a contract.
“I think it’s only fair that we have the same rights that millions of other workers have, but the right to bargain collectively has been denied us,” said Jennifer Brown, of Windsor, a provider of direct support services, “Forming our union was an important step, but we’re not there yet. We need to make sure that the state values the work we do by making us partners with a voice in our state’s home care system, and that means giving us the right to bargain a contract.”