The incoming DFL chair of a House health-care committee said the unionization of some in-home care workers could be good for them and for the state.
Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, who will chair the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee, appeared at the release of a report into the status of personal care assistants, who take care of elderly and disabled people into their homes. The assistants are the target of a unionizing effort by the Service Employees International Union.
"I certainly believe when people are organized and bargain collectively, it lifts their standard of living, and that is better for all of us," Liebling said.
SEIU and personal care workers said they will approach the new, DFL-controlled Legislature for authority to organize a union of in-home care workers. The union would cover those workers who are hired directly by the people they care for, and would include some people who care for elderly and disabled family members.
The report, commissioned by SEIU and conducted by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, found that the mostly-female workforce had a median wage of $10.79 per hour in 2011. With the need growing for such care, the report said, the state should take measures to attract more people to the work.
"Minnesota should increase wages and benefits for home care workers in order to make these jobs more attractive to job seekers," the report stated.