Home Care Members Rise Up

February 22, 2023

To increase the New York State minimum wage.

Screen Shot 2023-02-22 at 9.18.46 AM.png1199 Home Care members convened at the New York State capital on January 25, for a press conference to urge lawmakers to pass a much-needed increase to the state’s minimum wage.

After a successful campaign last year to raise home care workers’ wages in NYS, which are linked to the state’s minimum wage, it was time to join forces with the RaiseUpNy campaign aimed at improving the minimum wage for all.

“We recently got a raise, but it’s not enough. I get paid every two weeks and my check matches what I owe for rent. That doesn’t include the light bill, the phone, and I have to eat. I leave home at 6am to work two to three cases a day to keep a roof over my head. It’s a struggle,” said Donna Cumberbatch, a home care member who works at the RiseBoro Homecare Services in Brooklyn, adding, “Elected officials should ask themselves, when they get older, do they want quality care? If they want quality care, then they have to have good aides. If they want good aides, then they have to pay for them.”

The 1199 Home Care members that boarded busses up to Albany joined hundreds of fellow union workers, organizers and activists from New York City to call for legislation that would raise the minimum wage in NYC and its suburbs to $21.25 by 2026 and tie future raises to cost-of-living increases.

The Raise Up NY (S1978) bill, proposed by State Senator Jessica Ramos and State Assembly Member Latoya Joyner, would also raise the minimum wage in parts of the state outside of the city to $20 by 2026.

Six years ago, New York was one of the first states to adopt a $15 minimum wage—following a spirted campaign by 1199SEIU— improving the lives of millions of New York families. But with costs rapidly rising and no increases in the minimum wage for the last four years in much of the state, too many New York families are again unable to make ends meet.

In a poll conducted last November, 80 percent of respondents supported increasing the minimum wage in New York. The federal minimum wage has not increased in over a decade, and is worth less now than it was 60 years ago. As congressional attempts to raise it flounder in the face of Republican pushback, Union members are taking their fight to their state governments instead.

1199 Magazine: Jan-Feb 2023