By Shirley Ng
Home attendants, mostly women of color and immigrants, rallied outside City Hall on May Day, an international day to commemorate the labor movement and to call for an end to the 24-hour workday,
They have been pushing for New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Council Speaker, Adrienne Adams to sign the bill INT 175, also known as, “No More 24 Act” to end the 24-hour work day, which has been called a “crime against humanity,” by rally organizers, “Ain’t I a Woman?”
The bill would cap the workday to 12 hours for a shift and split the 24-hour workday into two shifts. For years, home attendants have not been paid for the 24-hour shifts they worked. Organizers, speaking also in Chinese and Spanish said that the bill is sitting idle because Speaker Adams said passing this bill would be a huge yearly cost to the city of $1 billion dollars.
Although a home attendant’s shift is 12 hours, they sleep at the patient’s home, which they technically would still be required to work if the patient needs any care during the evening. The workers have virtually no personal time and do not get a good restful sleep. These shifts have caused tremendous mental, health and family issues such as divorce. Some workers say they barely have any relationship with their children. Some workers are owed over $90,000 and more for decades of working 24 hour shifts. One home attendant worker, “Daisy” recently died from work-related issues.
“This bill would set the maximum working hours that an employer may assign to a home care aide. The hours would be limited to 12 hours for any one shift, or within any 24-hour period, and 50 hours within a week. A home care aide could be assigned additional hours in the event of an emergency,” according to the New York City Council website. The bill would also protect workers’ health, create more jobs and offer better care when another attendant would take on the second shift.
NYC Council member Christopher Marte helped introduce INT 175 last year. He said at the rally, “We are demanding that this city council, the same city that calls itself a union town, the same elected officials that will Tweet today how they stand with workers, the same leaders say their budget is a value statement, but when it comes to home attendants, when it comes to the working class, when it comes to immigrants, where are they?”
Assemblymember Ron Kim was also present to show support. “This is the only place in America that this is happening, here in our city. They are making billions and billions of dollars off the backs of hard-working immigrant woman worker.
The organizers blamed the city for taking sides with health insurance companies and leaving the workers “robbed” of their wages. They have even petitioned the United Nations to “Declare 24-hour workday a crime against humanity.”
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