Hello, United Home Care Workers of PA! Welcome to your new and improved monthly newsletter!
UHWP represents thousands of caregivers like you across Pennsylvania. We are a group of workers fighting to make our voices heard. Together we are making Pennsylvania a better place for home care workers and consumers. Through the tireless dedication of workers like you, we have made some fantastic advances in the last two years, but there is more to do!
This monthly newsletter is being compiled by a dedicated crew of home care workers eager to spread the news about where we are in our fight and give you ways to get plugged in. We want to share our lives and build a support system for workers. You can expect to find links to trainings, updates on our latest organizing and advocacy efforts, special interest stories, upcoming events, and self-care tips and tricks.
To aid in our mission of sharing stories and helpful hints, we invite you, dear friend, to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your stories, pictures, art, and lives. After all, there is no union without you. Together we are working towards a better home care system for all of us.
Jacinta Burgess Testifies at the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging about the Need to Raise Up Home Care
On Thursday, March 9th, Jacinta Burgess, a home care worker from Harrisburg and member of our union, testified at the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging on the struggles she faces as a home care worker and strength she finds in fighting with fellow union members for a better long term care system, fair wages, affordable healthcare, and good union jobs.
Click here to watch and share Jacinta’s full testimony on Facebook, or click here to watch and share on Instagram. Or, you can watch the full testimony below:
Why I cried when I met the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services
by Linda Orndoff
Looking back on the whole situation now, I laugh. I had myself a nervous wreck by the time I stood up to speak. I was the only caregiver speaking at this panel and I knew there were so many others out there with even more compelling stories than mine. I can’t let them down!
Thanks to a very caring Congresswoman Summer Lee and the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, I was able to tell my story in a way that had the impact I hoped for, aided by a very nice reporter Steve Mellon who wrote about the event and my story.
I am 61 years old and have seen a lot of politicians come and go during my life. The majority of them have paid little to no attention to the needs of the everyday people in this country.
However, in the last couple of years, I have had more hope then I have in decades. You might wonder why.
Because we elected as our Governor Josh Shapiro, a big advocate of caregivers. Then President Biden proved in his last State of the Union he’s thinking of us, saying, “Let’s get seniors who want to stay in their homes the care they need to do so. Let’s give more breathing room to millions of family caregivers looking after their loved ones. Pass my plan so we get seniors and people with disabilities the home care services they need and support the workers who are doing God’s work.”
Last but not least, it gave me hope when Secretary Becerra addressed me directly at the end of the panel, “You’re one of those quiet heroes in America,” he said. “I so admire you for taking on your family.” That was when I felt the tears rolling down my face. He continued by relaying the story of taking care of his parents in their last years.
After the event ended the others on the panel went into the hallway to give press statements. I was still sitting in my chair when I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up to see Secretary Becerra. He said he just wanted to shake my hand as he so admired what I was doing, taking care of my family. And that this administration understands what we are going through. That’s when I started crying again. He gets it! He understands!
That is why I have hope.
Write to Governor Shapiro why improving home care is important to you!
We elected a Governor who committed to raise up home care by investing in wages, benefits, and a union. Now, we need to hold Governor Shapiro accountable to our priorities.
Go to uhwp.org/WriteYourLetter to write a letter to Governor Shapiro and state legislators to make home care jobs good jobs, with a living wage of at least $15/hour, benefits, and a union contract.
We will deliver the letters to Governor Shapiro, key members of his administration, and state legislators, and we’ll keep in touch with you about additional ways to help.
Not sure what to say? Below you can read some of what Christal Spivey from Philadelphia wrote in her letter:
Dear Governor Shapiro and Elected Leaders,
Pennsylvania is in a care crisis! Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania’s seniors and people with disabilities need support to live at home but there are not enough home caregivers to meet the need.
I care for consumers every day, all day. They need assistance with everything. They can’t care for themselves like they used to. The consumers’ mind and bodies have declined a lot because of Severe Illnesses and Incompetent Physical Abilities that they endured at birth. The consumers need Coverage for their Activity of Daily Living Routines. I am here to make sure they get all of that and more.
You have to have a heart for this Profession. Respect for the ones who can’t care for themselves anymore. Communication to explain what My position is when preparing them for the rest of their lives. Compassion when there is no one to confide in about their livelihood.
In my union United Home Care Workers of PA, we travel to communicate for our consumers about their needs as well as our Company and Union. I went to all the rallies and phone banked for candidates. We hoped for a Change to compensate the workers for all the effort they put in with their consumers, 365 days every year no breaks or vacations and company and union to keep us going.
We don’t give up, even though we are tired, overworked, exhausted, and underpaid. We keep going because the Love and Care we provide is unmatched.
We need $15.00/hour for a start in the right direction. I deserve more, I have children and a Grandchild. I Live in PHA my rent is 540.00 Monthly not including phone bills and groceries for my family to survive. We Struggle Everyday All Day Non-Stop.
My Parents are Mentally Disabled. They don’t have the care they need to Live a normal Life. We need more Resources and Insurance that can cover their Health, Food, and Nutrition needs. Our Company needs a Union Contract to enable all workers a livable wage and affordable healthcare along with PPE. We are still in a Pandemic. COVID-19 is still here.
I have photos of when we spoke to you and marched with you to raise minimum wage to $15/hour. Please keep that same Spirit you had when we elected you. Thank You for being Our Champion. Home Care needs You!
– By Christal Spivey
CIL Member Corner
Updates for members at VFI, Liberty, and CIL of Central PA
by Helen Burke
After many long discussions and debates caregivers with the unionized Centers for Independent Living (VFI, Liberty, and CIL of Central PA) are now able to get free training, language classes, and tuition reimbursement of up to $5,000 dollars.
The Homecare Hub provides trainings in-person and virtually, such as CPR or Mental Health First Aid. All of the classes pertain to home care work and the need to provide quality care to our consumers. These trainings will also help with our personal growth. Please take the time to visit www.pahomecarehub.org and find a class for you!
We can also get help paying for college and/or trade school for programs that are in the medical field, such as a nursing degree, CNA class, food and nutrition, Health Policy, Health Administration, and many others. This includes language classes, too, through programs like Babble and through classes offered by colleges. These classes can help us communicate with consumers who speak another language. If you are interested in the tuition reimbursement for a class or certification elsewhere, call the Homecare Hub at (717) 238-1826 to apply.
Consumer Directed Member Corner
Updates for members working through Tempus or PPL
Consumer Directed Workers’ Spring 2023 Meet & Confer Survey
We just scheduled our first Meet & Confer session with the new Governor’s administration!
For consumer direct workers—those technically employed by the person they provide care for with either Tempus or PPL as their payment processor—Meet & Confer sessions are on of the main ways we have now to be able to have a collective voice to advocate around our working conditions with the Department of Humans Services and Governor’s administration.
We’ll have our first meeting with the new Secretary of the Department of Human Services on April 4th, and when we do, we want to be sure she knows what our priorities are.
Please take a moment today to complete the survey at uhwp.org/MeetAndConferSurvey, to help us identify everyone’s priorities and convey a collective vision for a better home care system that supports caregivers and those we care for.
Meeting with Sen. Casey for Better Care, Better Jobs
by Suzzane Ott
Hi, my name is Suzzanne Ott. I am from Venango County, and I care for my honey who had a stroke.
I recently had the opportunity to talk on zoom with Senator Bob Casey’s staff from the Senate Committee on Aging about the Better Care Better Jobs Act being reintroduced in the Senate. This bill would provide needed funding for home care workers. I talked to her about how hard it is to be a caregiver and have children and some of the difficulties I go through, working 7 days a week with no paid time off, and no backup caregivers.
I also have a child that has sickle cell disease who sometimes gets sick and has to be hospitalized. When that happens I have to stay in the hospital with her until she’s able to come home. I’m not being paid enough and struggle to pay my bills. I have no childcare so I have to watch my 3-year-old and attend to her father who’s in a wheelchair at the same time.
I talked to them about the struggles we, as caregivers, face on a daily basis.
I felt like Senator Casey’s staff understood me and wanted to help. It made me feel good to be heard. I feel like the more caregivers that met with politicians and tell our stories, the more they can help us and understand us. We, as caregivers, have to get the word out!
Upcoming EventsTraining—Delegate 101: Labor Rights Basics and Strategies for Solving Workplace Problems 📆 Thursday, March 16 🕛 1PM OR 6PM 🌐 Remote Event In this session we will review the basic labor rights for union members and discuss basic strategies on how to apply those rights and to take action to make improvement around workplace problems.
Meet & Confer Session with the Secretary of Department of Human Services
📆 Tuesday, April 4th 🕛 Time TBD 📍 Harrisburg, Venue TBD This event is for consumer direct workers—those technically employed by the person they provide care for with either Tempus or PPL as their payment processor—Meet & Confer sessions are one of the main ways we have now to be able to have a collective voice to advocate around our working conditions with the Department of Humans Services and Governor’s administration. This will be our first meeting with the new Secretary of the Department of Human Services.
- If you are interested in joining, let us know when you take the Consumer Directed Workers’ Spring 2023 Meet & Confer Survey, and we’ll be in touch to discuss details.
- Click here to register.
- OR Call 1-888-839-8682 and use code “SEIU”.
In Case You Missed It
- Find out more about the new and exclusive benefits and discounts available to you as an SEIU member.
- Happy Women’s History Month to the women who care for our loved ones and our communities, who’ve made our union a fighting one, and who speak out not because it’s easy but because it’s right.
- Check out this video from February where home care worker and UHWP member Francis Adams commemorated Black History Month by honoring the contributions of Black Americans who advanced our struggle for justice in this country and talking about the people who inspired him to always stand up for what’s right.
- In January, we honored our incredible member leaders who graduated from our Healthcare Organizer Academy—including many of our home care leaders—and proudly handed out diplomas and awards for their hard work, commitment to building our Union’s political power, and led the campaign to elect Governor Josh Shapiro and Lt. Governor Austin Davis!