Recently, immigrant women home care workers rallied at City Hall calling on Speaker Adams to bring to a vote a bill that would end the inhumane 24-hour workday. Adams attacked the Int 175 bill sponsor Christopher Marte for participating in a rally with the workers and community he represents rather than staying holed up inside the City Council and talking with other city council members. “You are inciting violence against me,” Adams accused Marte. “You don’t know what it is to be a woman.” Marte’s bill did not come from internal discussions at the City Council. It was informed by the demands of women home care workers. For eight years these women have been coming together and standing up to tell the world that the 24-hour shift and the wage theft of 11 hours each shift were a violent attack on the health and families of home care workers, most of whom are immigrant women of color. These women pointed out that splitting the 24-hour shift into two shifts of 12 hours each was better for both the caregiver and the elderly, ill or disabled individuals in their care. What kind of democracy is Adams promoting? Democracy for the few: her refusal to bring Int 175 to a vote helps insurance companies and home care agencies fatten their profits. What kind of democracy are we fighting for: a democracy for the many: all the working people who say, no more 24-hour shifts so that we can protect our health and families and have time to live a life. Women speak out against the racist violence of the 24-hour shift
- Mayra: I was working a 24-hour shift when I got an urgent call. I needed to be with my 14-year-old son. But I couldn’t leave until the end of my shifts two days later. I couldn’t concentrate.
- Dellanira: I was short of breath and having heart palpitations while working a 24-hour shift. I called the home care agency for someone to replace me so I could go to the hospital. My patient was worried and offered to call the ambulance. That was a Friday. No one came to relieve me until Sunday.
- Milania: I worked 12 years of 24-hour shifts. This is violence against us. It’s abuse. It’s racist! I didn’t sleep because I had to turn the patient over every 2 hours. The mind gets cloudy. 24-hour shifts also destroy your family, destroy your relationship with your children. I have four kids. I would return home, and when I tried to hug them, they didn’t want to. They said I had abandoned them. I wasn’t there when they were going to bed. I wasn’t there when they got up. The family needs love, care, and quality of time.
- Yasmin Silvera: I have worked as a home care worker for 17 years. I worked 24-hour shifts before my daughter, Jazzy, was born. When she was three months old, my grandmother asked me, ‘Why don’t you send her here so we can raise her in Jamaica so you can work?’. I said “No!” I knew what that was like to be separated from my mother because of work, and I wasn’t going to repeat that. I was 10 months old when my mother left me in Jamaica to be raised by my grandmother because she was going to the U.S. to work as a home care worker—24-hour days. 15 years went by before I saw my mother again. We’ve never really had a relationship. I knew for sure that I didn’t want that with my daughter.
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