By Teauraun Aaron
When you think of a home healthcare worker I bet you don’t think of someone like me. I’m an African American man who has worked in the homecare industry for the past ten years. It is my main source of income. I make $9 an hour, about one dollar over the industry average.
I worked for Deaconess Home Healthcare until they abruptly closed their doors this year without paying us. Deaconess already paid me such a low wage I could not save for an emergency. After they closed, I lost three weeks of pay and had to work out deals and financing arrangements with my landlord and bill collectors. Once I got a job at a new home healthcare agency a month later, I still had to wait 30 days to receive a paycheck and I still do not bring home high enough wages to afford the basics of life.
That situation was devastating and it upsets me to think that the same thing could happen at other agencies. Homecare agencies receive public funds to operate but do not pay workers a wage we can live on and do not provide us healthcare coverage. Many homecare workers rely on public assistance just to survive.
Since homecare agencies use public funds, why would they pay a wage that forces their workers to use even more public dollars? Why would any company benefiting from public resources force their workers into such a bad situation? Workers like me deserve more. We work hard to provide crucial services each day and we deserve a chance to earn a wage we can survive off of.
Workers like me deserve a living wage that will end the daily struggles of picking which bills pay and wondering how we will make it each week.
Our government should not help companies like Deaconess treat workers the way they treated me. A movement is growing to end this practice, and put standards on jobs created by companies using public resources. Community organizations, faith leaders and workers like me are coming together with one voice demanding that elected leaders pass living wage laws to put standards on jobs created by companies who use public resources.
Join our fight today and help improve the lives of thousands of workers in Milwaukee. Together, we can raise the floor for wages and transform our city. Call your county supervisor today and tell him or her that you support a living wage for Milwaukee.
Teauraun Aaron is a resident of Milwaukee who works for a homecare agency.