St. Paul home care worker Maggie Doran: Why I’m voting ‘yes’

mug-voices0814On July 8, home care workers from across the state came together to file a union petition that triggered what will be the largest union election in the history of our state. Ballots will go out to more than 26,000 home care workers on August 1, and we will have our election results before Labor Day.

We’ve fought for years to get to this point, and there are thousands and thousands of workers from every corner of our state who are part of our movement. Each has a story about why they are joining our campaign to form our union and finally make our work “Invisible No More.”

My story is that I’m a home care worker for a sweet girl who suffers from Rett Syndrome. It is a joy to care for this beautiful child, but it is also challenging work. On a daily basis, she requires tube feeding, dressing, bathing, administration of meds and lots of mobility issues including a split-level entrance at her house.

Despite the important work being done by home care workers like me, we face a reality of low pay, no benefits and lack of training and support. When we win our Union, we will be continuing our fight not only for higher wages and benefits, but things like body-braces for caregivers to help ensure safe and quality care for those we serve. Things like this should not be considered luxuries for the Minnesotans who need care. Our campaign is fighting for a better quality of life for workers and the people we serve. Families in Minnesota deserve better than our current situation.

I provide care for my client through the Consumer Directed Community Supports program. Like most home care workers, I do not get paid mileage and many important parts of my job end up having to be done “off the clock.” Home care workers care immensely for the people we serve, and too often our dedication means we are working many hours longer than we are paid for and sacrificing our health to take care of someone else. With the current situation, turnover is incredibly high and the people who receive services end up suffering. As we face a growing number of Minnesotans needing care, this crisis will only get worse. That is why we need our union.

I will be voting “yes” for a Union to move our industry forward, both for workers and the people we serve. By the end of August, we will have our results and will have won the largest union election in state history. This will be a historic moment, but it will only be the beginning.

When we win our union, we will have achieved a groundbreaking step toward our goals of making our work “Invisible No More.”

– Maggie Doran is a home care worker who lives in St. Paul. She plans to vote “yes” this month to form a union of home care workers statewide, represented by SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

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