Home care agencies claim there is not enough money to hire more workers to cover the 24-hour shifts and not enough money to pay the overtime wages. They point fingers at Medicaid, while at the state level, Gov. Cuomo takes pride in slashing Medicaid funds and funneling them to insurance companies.
• Home attendant work is paid for by Medicaid funds. Medicaid fun ding responsibility is broken down into Federal: 50%, NY State: 35%, each county: 15%
• Before 2011, Medicaid funds used to be administered by the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) for Medicaid patients in NYC.
• In 2011, Governor Cuomo rede signed Medicaid to allow funds to be managed by insurance compa nies through a Managed Long Term Care network, cutting out HRA. The insurance com panies only approve pa tients for home care hours after rigorous evaluation to determine if the patient requires constant care.
• To win 1199SEIU’s for cutting $1 billion from Medicaid in his 2011 Medicaid Rede-
sign, Cuomo agreed to bail out the union’s insurance fund to the tune of $50Million.
• Insurance companies are increasingly being sued for cutting the hours of homecare for clients. The less care they provide, the more profit they make.
Winning the right to refuse overtime and the right to a 40-hourworkweek means that workersend up happier and healthier, but that’s not all. Worker income will be increased and the disparity of wealth between rich and poor will be decreased. Nowadays, many multi-national corporations adopt the strategy to extract more profit by increasing work-hours and by forcing workers into long hours even if they don’t want it. The Pac tiv factory is an example: When the workers got together to fight for better conditions and join the union, the company retaliated against them by laying off half of the staff. Meanwhile, the rest of the staff were forced to work long hours, with an increase in work load so the company could pro duce as much as before. Anyone who spoke up or refused to work overtime, was punished. Those who continued to work received 50% more income than before, but soon, many of those workers developed debilitating injuries as a result of the worsening working conditions and had no choice but to take sick leave or quit, unable to work at all. Overall, there was a cumulative negative impact on the community of workers. As a whole staff, the workers’ earnings sank and the company’s profit soared.
SOAR is a member of the Ain’t I Woman Campaign and orga nizes students and young workers in the fight against mandatory overti me. The students first learned about the problem of mandatory overtime through the Pactiv workers’ story and recognized the relevance to their own lives and futures as young workers. In 2011, Pactiv fired 60% of the production workers (almost all Chinese and Latina women) in their New Jersey plant in retaliation for speaking out against intolera ble conditions. The remaining 40% were forced to take up their fired coworkers’ responsibilities on top of their own. The pace of work sped up, and the women were forced to work overtime—until many beca me seriously injured and disabled. Despite these setbacks, the workers continued to organize. Pactiv reta liated again by closing shop. Many students around the country spread the Pactiv/Reynolds Boycott to raise awareness of the problem.