Workers invite all New Yorkers to join them on May 1st, 12 noon, outside City Hall, to stop racism, stop corruption and stop wage theft

Last Friday, April 14th, home attendants wrapped up their rally and 3-day sit-in with a rousing denunciation of New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams’ refusal to end the racist violence of 24-hour shifts and to bring the No More 24 Act (Intro 175) to a vote.  The Speaker had responded to the workers’ demands by saying that ending the 24-hour workday would cost the City $1 billion each year, a misleading but also revealing and disturbing statement. 

The home attendants’ three-day sit-in under the blazing sun called for the passage of Intro 175 that would ensure better care for disabled, elderly, and ill individuals, and life-saving relief for caregivers by implementing split shifts of 12 hours to provide care for those who require 24-hour care. They also highlighted the wage theft in the current system where home care agencies and insurance companies rob these workers—overwhelmingly immigrant women of color—of hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages each. 

The Speaker’s reference to $1 billion is an acknowledgement that workers are being robbed of that amount each year. However, she wants to scare the public by suggesting the City would have to pay this out. Does she mean the City is responsible for bailing out – and even increasing the profits of – sweatshop home care agencies and the insurance companies that are already enriched by this government-sanctioned wage theft of 11 hours of pay per 24-hour shifts? 

Several NMASS members spoke at the rally and sit-in, like Marcola Guzman, Vicki Niu, and Jasmin Solvera.

Marcola, who has worked 24-hour shifts for over a decade and continues to work these hours, explained the violence of the 24-hour workdays:. “These shifts are destroying my health. I suffer from back problems, it is hard for me to walk, and I have uncontrolled high blood pressure. This is from staying up working with very sick bedridden patients. I only get paid 13 hours out of 24. I’m owed$278,753.00 for 6 years of 24 hours. If Adrienne Adams does not bring this bill to a vote, I will never get my sweat, lost years, pain and suffering back. Today chains aren’t needed for slavery– it is alive and well under the 24 hour system and  maintained by politicians like Speaker Adrienne Adams. She pretends to fight for women and African descendants like me, workers and working families, but behind closed doors she is using her political power to protect insurance companies and home care agencies.”

The government-sanctioned 24-hour workday negatively impacts workers across trades. , as Vicki spoke of the demands within the tech industry.

“As young people, so many of us suffer from long hours and lack of control over our time. As a tech worker, I have to be “on call”: for one week every two months, I can be paged at any time — woken up in the middle of the night — to come online and respond to a work incident within five minutes. For that week, I feel like my life is barely my own, and feel the effects of having even one night of interrupted sleep. Our bosses can demand we sacrifice our nights, weekends, sleep, and health while we make do with the little that remains: how can we accept this as our future?” 

Intro 175 would finally end rampant crimes against women of color. It would greatly improve care for those who require around-the-clock care by taking away insurance companies’ ability to violate laws and deny split shifts when patients require 24-hour care. Intro 175 would not require funding from the City but would stop the wage theft. 

Jasmin, who has worked as a home care worker since 2006, spoke at the sit-in refuting Adam’s assertion that the act is not legal. 

“The 24- hour shift is what is not legal! With new evidence from the DOL, that has finally started to enforce the law, showing that crimes are being committed against women EVERY DAY, causing monetary loss in the millions! Hundreds of thousands of dollars is stolen from each worker and still the Speaker will say ending this crime against women is illegal?? To what length – to what lows- will you go Speaker Adams to protect insurance companies profits? Even lying to everyone by saying the city has to pay when it is clear that it should be the home care agencies and the insurance companies that have to pay! You will use your position of power to help agencies and insurance companies exploit and destroy women of color and their patients. Shame!”

Workers invite all New Yorkers to join them on May 1st, 12 noon, outside City Hall, to stop racism, stop corruption and stop wage theft, calling on Speaker Adams to bring 175 to a vote to end the inhumane 24-hour workday. 

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