Around Our Regions: Homecare Workers Support Each Other through Vax and PPEMay 11, 2021
Home health workers across the Union have been leading the way for vaccinations and PPE for home-based care workers. In New York City, 1199SEIU homecare workers have helped organize a host of vaccination and PPE distribution events. Homecare members and staff have been helping workers get vaccinated and obtain PPE; they have been providing transportation assistance as well and helping their Union family with paperwork and vaccination appointments. Over 200 1199ers participated in a March 8 vaccination event at New York City’s Personal Touch Agency. Workers at the joint labor/management event also received PPE and hand sanitizer. In Massachusetts, 1199SEIU Personal Care Attendants have been at the forefront of outreach among PCAs and agency-based homecare workers, to help them get vaccinated and stock up their PPE supply. Maria Alessio, a Boston-area PCA has participated in several PPE distribution and vaccination events. “I talked to PCAs and homecare workers about the vaccine and what it was like,” says Alessio, who received her first vaccination in February. “I also talked to them about the Union and what it means for them to be in our Union— because we all have to fight for each other.” The clinics were held at local Boston-area hospitals, with PPE drives held in areas PCAs and homecare workers could easily access by public transportation. (Some PPE was also mailed to PCAs who could not attend distribution events.) Alessio sees the events as a two-fold opportunity: Workers can build the Union and also address hesitance around the vaccine that’s prevalent in some communities.
“We wanted people to understand that we were trying to help them. We needed to figure out how to help people feel more confident, and [we are mindful about] how we talk to people, so they feel we are respecting their feelings and their bodies,” she says. “It was an opportunity to educate ourselves and each other. Together we can survive this pandemic.”