Home attendants care for sick and elderly Medicaid patients throughout the state, and are often forced to work 24-hour shifts up to 7days a week. If they refuse, many employers retaliate with a reduced schedule or by assigning difficult cases. Their average pay is $10-11 per hour. To add insult to injury, the agencies only pay them 13 out of 24 hours. At the end of the day their pay is far below the minimum wage.
Lai Yee Chan and other home attendants employed by Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) decided to speak out againstCPC’s wage theft and mandatory overtime. With the support of Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association, in 2015 they filed a class action against CPC and organized over a hundred co-workers to join them.
The New York State Supreme Courtaffirmed their right to pursue payfor all hours worked.But their union, 1199SEIU,shamelessly entered into an agreement with the employer to amendthe contract making arbitrationmandatory for any wage claims anddepriving workers their right to collective action and their right to afair day in court. The new contract also cut the wages for all 24-hourshift workers, instead of giving thema wage increase that was long overdue.
In 2016, in a separate case against non-union agency HumanCare LLC, the judge issued an order affirming that workers who have 24-hour shifts are still entitled to full pay for every hour of the 24-hourshift. Last fall, Alvaro Ramirez andhis coworkers launched anotherclass action against their home-care agency, First Chinese Presbyterian Community Affairs Home Attendant Corp. Many other workers from different backgrounds are coming forward to fight these conditions and win the right to control their time.