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About a thousand workers from the Partners in Care homecare agency gathered at a mid-town Manhattan hotel on May 20 to kick off their campaign for a new contract and to meet with the negotiating committee that would be representing them at the bargaining table.

1199SEIU represents about 10,000 home care workers at the Partners in Care agency, where workers voted for Union membership in 1999. Even though the agency’s home attendants were at that time making less than $6.00 per hour, they were some of the toughest members of 1199SEIU.

Today Partners and many other homecare workers make $10.00 per hour, which workers like Stephanie Wilson say is still not enough. Wilson, a negotiating committee member vowed to work for better pay and benefits for her co-workers and herself.

“I’d like to see that we get more money,” said Wilson, who makes just over $9.00 per hour. “And also better healthcare. I know how important that is. I’m a cancer survivor.”

Also discussed were education benefits and the creation of “ladders” in homecare that would provide career advancement for home health aides, as well as recognize their importance within the patient-care team.

Fired up workers left the ballroom chanting and singing and prepared to take the message of the contract campaign back to their co-workers.

“I’m ready to fight for what we need,” said Lorraine Edward. “We need more benefits and vacation pay – the things that make us feel good about ourselves when we come home from work. We need better pay and better health benefits and I’m here to fight for that.”

You can sign up for text message updates about the campaign by texting GOODJOBS to 30644 (standard text message rates apply) or by liking us on Facebook at PIC Workers for Good Jobs & Quality Care.

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