After 20 years of working as a home care worker, Mary Franklin from Las Vegas, Nevada has one more mission: to fight alongside other home care workers in their opportunity to join a union.
Franklin got into home care work when her mother was diagnosed with cancer very late in life and she wanted to learn how to properly care for her. Since then, Franklin has cared for multiple clients and has taken every training offered through various employers and agencies to improve her skills and provide better quality care.
“I know my clients have no one else they can count on, so I’m there to care and support them,” Franklin says. “I take them grocery shopping, take them to their doctor’s appointments and sometimes I treat them to lunch. I’m someone who they can talk to. I build a relationship with them.”
But like many home care workers in Nevada and the rest of the country, working long hours for multiple clients has left Franklin feeling overworked and underpaid.
“I earned $10 an hour when I started,” Franklin says. “It took me 14 years to make $12 an hour. I don’t get health insurance or paid time off. I don’t even get money for the gas I need to drive to my clients’ homes, and that’s $80 a week. I work from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, non-stop. It’s very strenuous. The work is very rewarding, don’t get me wrong, but at the end of the long day I have my own family to take care of, too.”
But Franklin and thousands of other Nevada home care workers are coming together to fight for family-sustaining wages, basic benefits and a chance to join a union by asking presidential campaigns directly. At the recent Nevada Unions for All Summit, Franklin even got a chance to ask former Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, who was standing in for Vice President Joe Biden how, if elected President, he would create good union jobs for all home care workers.
“Before I started getting active with SEIU Nevada, I felt like there was no one to talk to,” Franklin said. “I felt alone. I was afraid to even ask for a raise because I just didn't want my home care agency to think I didn't appreciate the job. But now that I’ve met other home care workers like me, I know we can fight and win.”