Terry Lee

Issued July 27, 2021

Workers, Advocates Announce ‘Care Is Essential’ Rebrand to Drive Home Demands


For Immediate Release: Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Home care workers, people who count on care continue campaign to demand federal investment in good union, living-wage home care jobs

Home care workers with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) today announced a new phase of their fight for federal investment in home care jobs to meet the growing crisis in care with a full-scale rebrand of their campaign, now called Care Is Essential. Workers, care consumers and supporters across the nation have come together to demand Congress pass a bold investment in care to jumpstart an equitable recovery, especially for the majority-women-of-color workforce that cares for our nation.

“There will be no future unless Congress comes together across the aisle to make a serious, immediate, and bold investment in care and care jobs,”  said Rena Bumbray Graves, a home care worker from Woodbridge, Virginia and Service Employees International Union VA512 member. “There is nothing to debate. Stop pushing back. Care is essential.”

Home care workers in the Service Employees International Union have been organizing together for years to demand a greater investment in good union, living-wage home care jobs. Their call for Congress to invest in care jobs has been echoed from all corners of the nation. That importantly includes support from individuals who rely on care who have joined in the demand, declaring: Care Is Essential. 

“Caregiving in America has been seen and been treated as a low-end job," California home care consumer Engracia Figueroa said recently. "Caregiving needs to be seen as an industry, as a career, as a real good job, and they need to be paid equitably."

"A couple years ago I thought we were in this fight alone, and you just feel so alone when there's nobody out there listening to you,” said Jennifer Bell, Pennsylvania home care consumer. “And then now to see this and see the union coming together and everybody wanting to come together. It's amazing." 

On July 13th, over 10,000 care workers, consumers, partners and advocates took their demands for a $400 billion federal investment in the care economy to the streets. In a nationwide day of action, workers marched, rallied, held block parties and unveiled public art installations in more than 20 cities, demanding good union jobs and living wages for home care workers and a down payment to expand access across the care system. 

“Before us is a tremendous opportunity our nation can’t afford to lose: President Biden has listened to home care workers and proposed an investment in home- and community-based services. The plan will tackle the dual crisis of access to care and shortage of good jobs that’s holding our entire economy back,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union. “It’s also the first-ever jobs program aimed at providing career paths and good, union, living-wage jobs for a majority-women-of-color workforce. Congress must meet this moment not only with jobs, but with justice for care workers and care for our communities.”

In June and July, home care workers and consumers from Alaska to Maine, California to North Carolina came together with key U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives and other elected leaders to talk about the urgency of creating a million new care jobs for an industry powered by Black, white, Latina, Asian, indigenous and immigrant women. SEIU’s nationwide in-district town hall program provided an opportunity for Members of Congress to shift away from Hill-centric talks and instead hear directly from the workers and consumers whose lives would be transformed by President Biden’s proposed $400 billion investment in home- and community-based services.

Workers and care consumers met with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA), Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL),  Sen. Angus King (I-ME), Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN), Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). In Indiana, workers hosted U.S. Rep Frank Mrvan, and in Missouri, they hosted U.S. Rep. Cori Bush. Workers and consumers also gathered for events in Iowa, North Carolina and West Virginia, and Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) attended national events in support of the care plan.

And as part of the summer campaign, SEIU launched $3 million in television ads to call on Congress to pass a $400 billion investment in care, running ads in the Beltway, as well as in Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Wisconsin.