As a union, our mission is to achieve equality and dignity for home care workers, our clients, and the communities where we live and work. That means working to create a world where equality and dignity are possible; a world where no one is discriminated on based on who they are, where they live, or how they love.
That means we are committed to social justice. We fight for women, black lives, disability justice, and immigration reform. We fight for our families and communities and all who experience oppression. Because we know that not one of us is free until we are all free.
Racial Justice and Ending Police Violence
Like domestic workers nationwide, UDW’s membership is majority women of color, and we know that Inequality in our world doesn’t just affect some people, it affects us all. Dividing us by race creates hate and hostility and leads to tragedy. One type of tragedy that UDW members are committed to preventing is police violence against people of color. That’s why UDW supported—and continues to support—initiatives to deescalate use of force between police and the people they encounter.
Two years ago, we helped pass AB 953, the first ever anti-racial, -religious, and -identity profiling bill in California. We have also helped further integrate racial justice into the labor movement by helping author racial justice, public safety, immigration reform and voting rights resolutions that have been adopted by UDW, the California Labor Federation, and our national union, AFSCME.
Currently, we are putting our union’s support behind AB 931, a bill by Assemblymember Shirley Weber, that seeks to fundamentally change the way police approach the use of force. AB 931 would require law enforcement officers to exhaust all other means of de-escalation prior to employing deadly force. To increase our influence on racial justice initiatives such as AB 931, we have joined a coalition of other labor unions and criminal justice reform advocates to ensure that our voices are heard in these efforts. Together, working people can stop the tragic, unnecessary loss of life from police violence.
IHSS serves low-income seniors and people with disabilities. As their caregivers, we not only care for our clients’ personal care needs, we stand up for their rights.
When a bill to weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), HR 620, was introduced in Congress in 2017, we took a stand with our allies in the disability community to stop it. Also in 2017, we sponsored the bill to heighten awareness of Silver Alerts, which are issued when a vulnerable adult goes missing. And we are currently working with a variety of law enforcement groups throughout the state to ensure safer interactions between police and people with disabilities.
Domestic work, like caregiving, has long been the domain of women, and “women’s work” has traditionally been disrespected and underpaid. Seventy-eight percent of our members are women. It is clearly our duty to not only support equal pay for equal work, but to be leaders on working toward making that principle a reality.
We are stepping fully into that leadership. At our 2018 convention, we adopted a strong pay equity resolution, committing ourselves to developing strategies to ensure equal pay and freedom from discrimination regardless of sex, racial and national origin, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. We further committed ourselves to joining AFSCME in lobbying the White House and Congress to enforce pay equity for all working women. And in November 2018, we held a Workplace Equity Forum at our UDW offices to form strategies with our allies to end pay inequality once and for all.
Our country and our state are addicted to mass incarceration. Despite making up around five percent of the global population, the U.S. has nearly 25 percent of the world’s prison population. And our incarcerated population has grown by 700 percent since 1970—far outpacing population growth and crime. Low-wage workers like us live in the communities that most strongly experience the economic and social effects of mass incarceration. Our communities are over policed and subject to mass incarceration and police brutality.
To address these inequalities, UDW has supported recent efforts to do away with unfair sentencing enhancements and ensure that police body cameras are used as an effective deterrent to excessive force. And we were early and ardent supporters of the successful effort to eliminate cash bail, an unjust system where people are held in jail before they are tried simply because they don’t have money.
Nationwide, one-fourth of home care workers are immigrants and UDW proudly counts thousands of immigrants among our members. As the national rhetoric toward immigrants has become more toxic and ugly, we will continue to advocate for comprehensive, humane immigration reform, and for the human and civil rights of the immigrants in our communities. We adopted a comprehensive immigration reform resolution at our 2015 UDW convention and strengthened that commitment at the 2018 convention. With our AFSCME allies, we are urging Congress to take on immigration reform at the national level, so that all of our families can live free of fear and be able to pursue our dreams.
The lack of affordable housing in California is a problem that deeply affects our membership. Many of us struggle to keep up with rising rents and home prices and some UDW members are experiencing homelessness. That’s just not right, so we have taken a strong stand on affordable housing. We adopted a strong resolution at our 2018 convention affirming the right of all renters to a safe, affordable, and decent home and committing UDW to fighting for affordable housing by joining our allies in seeking solutions to our state’s housing crisis. We are part of Build Better San Diego, a coalition advocating to preserve and increase access to permanently affordable homes, jobs, and transit for all San Diegans. We worked to help pass the Source of Income Discrimination Ordinance in July 2018, which will prevent San Diego landlords from rejecting prospective tenants who use Section 8 funds to pay part of their housing expenses. And we gained a strong new role on affordable housing in 2018 when our Assistant Executive Director, Johanna Puno Hester, was named to the San Diego Housing Commission.
Caregivers for social justice
Our main priority remains raising up caregivers and protecting IHSS for providers and clients. But UDW members know the only way to achieve long term victory for caregivers is to win justice for all.