Coalition fights against exploitation of caregivers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — After a year and a half of research, the Coalition for a Fair and Equitable Caregiving Industry has released a report that highlights the the structural and exploitative nature of working conditions in California’s residential care facilities for the elderly, or RCFE’s.

The coalition is made up of legal service providers, worker centers, unions, community-based nonprofit organizations, and consumer advocates who are invested in reforming the caregiving industry to ensure that workers and consumers of care receive fair and equitable treatment.

“The RCFE’s are not really regulated as medical facilities. There’s no requirement for medical or skilled staff that’s on call or on site. And until recently the training requirements were very lax…” said Hina B. Shah of Golden Gate University, School of Law. “It resulted in cot complying with minimum wage, overtime, as well as creating a structure that really created poor quality of care.”

Two Pinay caregivers were on hand to give testimonies on how they were exploited by their former employers.

They say that it was thanks to the help of Filipino worker advocate organizations that they were able to fight back.

“What they’re paying workers and what the cost of running a care home facility, they’re actually making quite a bit of money. And we could look into the actual cost but from what the workers know, and this is it’s important why the worker’s voices should be at the center of this, they know they’re being underpaid,” said Terry Valen.

Filipino advocates for the caregivers say that their organizations and caregivers have been facing retaliation and intimidation from some care home owners.

However, they say it gives them more reason to fight.

“We’re standing up for what’s right: the dignity and value of this work, their care of patients, and patients as well. Patient advocate groups are standing up, as well seeing as how working conditions can really affect the quality care of elderly and disabled patients. We’re all in this together.”

According to the coalition, the purpose of the report is to spark a dialogue to reform the industry.

“We are hoping is we bring in industry leaders, consumer advocates, and worker advocates to the table with legislatures to really talk about how to create affordable, quality care as well as quality, sustainable working conditions environment for our caregivers,” said Shah.

A recent victory for caregivers and their advocates is the signing into law of SB 10-15, which guarantees domestic workers get overtime pay.

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