Issued July 22, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC - Vice President Joe Biden got a firsthand look at the crisis facing our nation’s nursing home residents and long-term care workers today as he joined SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania member Shanrika Nelson for a virtual tour of the Somerton Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Philadelphia. The event was part of SEIU’s Walk-a-Day-in-My-Shoes program, and was followed by a virtual roundtable discussion with Biden and seven frontline workers from across the country about what essential workers need as part of our nation’s economic recovery. The participants represent the breadth of frontline workers, from healthcare to distribution centers, who are key to keeping the public safe.
“Caregivers are standing up and demanding the protections and standards we need to be safe,” Nelson said. “Joe Biden wants to make sure we get paid what we’re worth, transforming these jobs, once and for all, into jobs that are not only valued by society, but also jobs that people can live on and provide a decent quality of life for their families.”
The virtual events come the day after Biden announced an historic plan that would lead America’s economic recovery by investing the full spectrum of caregiving that American families need—from child care, in-home care for seniors and people with disabilities, and community-based health services to provide landmark relief and recovery for families, caregivers and our economy. By providing relief and resources to America’s caregiving workforce, Biden’s plan would invest in our future by providing necessary relief and resources for families, home care workers and early childhood educators, predominantly Black and brown women, who care for our grandparents and nurture our future generations.
“Joe Biden walked a day in the shoes of an SEIU member because he has a deep visceral connection with working families’ struggle to succeed in this economy,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “His caregiving job plan makes America’s caregivers, who are predominantly Black and brown women, central to our recovery, recognizing the value they provide in our families’ daily lives and in making our economy run. It marks the first time a presidential candidate has included care work as a centerpiece of their economic agenda. Joe Biden showed today, through his empathetic conversation with essential frontline workers, why he has the experience, compassion, and steady leadership to guide America out of the coronavirus pandemic and build back better.”
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, the demand for quality long-term care providers was among the most pressing needs for families. While the demand for care providers was growing, America’s care system was itself in crisis. For too long, America’s caregivers have provided quality care for American families without adequate pay, benefits and security to care for their own families. The pandemic has laid bare this crisis in our long term care system as nursing home workers and residents have suffered terribly from the virus.
The pandemic has also made clear the critical role of essential workers—many of whom are SEIU members—in keeping our economy running and all of us safe. Healthcare workers, janitors, airport workers, food service and public service workers play a vital role in the safe and sustainable running of our economy—from disinfecting and sanitizing public spaces to enforcing public health distance and mask protocols to being on the frontlines of our healthcare system and administering vital public services. They have kept working at great risk to themselves due to a lack of everything from protective equipment to workplace protections. Across the country, SEIU essential workers have been calling on elected leaders at all levels to bring working people and corporations together to address and find solutions for a safer, more inclusive recovery.
SEIU’s two million members are ready to turn their outrage, energy and hope into votes. Their efforts will focus on turning out SEIU members, their families and communities, and expanding the electorate by turning out infrequent Black, Latino and Asian American Pacific Islander voters. Adjusting to the new reality posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, SEIU has combined its deep expertise in both traditional and digital organizing to connect with voters in multiple languages. Hundreds of member political organizers are being deployed full time to recruit additional volunteers and talk to their coworkers about making their plan to vote.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) unites 2 million diverse members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. SEIU members working in the healthcare industry, in the public sector and in property services believe in the power of joining together on the job to win higher wages and benefits and to create better communities while fighting for a more just society and an economy that works for all of us, not just corporations and the wealthy.