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Home Care Workers Honor Juneteenth, Demand Rollback of Racist Laws in Campaign Kick-Off

June 19, 2021

“On this Juneteenth, we’re celebrating home care workers, especially Black home care workers in Virginia. For centuries, we've been providing the high quality and skilled work that makes ALL other work possible!"

We celebrated all of our major victories and kicked off our campaign to win collective bargaining rights. Watch the recorded event here!

Richmond Times-Dispatch, CBS 6, and various other TV stations covered the event.

Check out photos on our Facebook page.

With the sounds of a majorette performance in the background, home care workers gathered on Juneteenth to launch their historic, statewide campaign to dismantle the systemic racial inequities that hold down the Commonwealth’s home care workers. They called on allies, elected officials and partner organizations to stand with home care workers as they fight for a voice on the job and a seat at the table to set standards of care and to win the freedom to negotiate a union contract through collective bargaining.

Home care workers held their Home Care Homecoming on a day that celebrates the liberation of the last enslaved Black Americans in 1865, shining a light on how the legacy of an industry rooted in the antebellum south—when Black enslaved women were required to care for the needs of white families—still informs how care workers are treated today.

“On this Juneteenth, we’re celebrating home care workers, especially Black home care workers in Virginia. For centuries, we've been providing the high quality and skilled work that makes ALL other work possible,” said Thomasine Wilson. "We have been denied protection because of anti-Black hatred and systemic racism. Yet we have never stopped persisting. We’ve organized, we’ve lobbied, we HAVE LED this movement, and we have won, over and over again.”

“We know that a tree won’t grow without strong roots, so we’re establishing the FOUNDATION for home care workers to truly thrive in Virginia. We need a MINIMUM of $15 an hour. We need quality health care. Paid leave. An 8 hour work day and a 40 hour week with collective bargaining,” Wilson continued.

Today’s Juneteenth Homecare Homecoming rally, which was also highlighted on a Juneteenth livestream at #BlackWomenCare, included speeches from home care union leaders, movement allies, and elected officials who voiced their support for workers’ demands—including Lieutenant Governor candidate Hala Ayala, Senator Jennifer McClellan, Senator Ghazala Hashmi, Delegate Lamont Bagby, members of New Virginia Majority, and members of Care in Action.

“When I worked at a gas station pregnant with my son, I almost died having him. I understand what being an unprotected worker means. For $5.25 an hour I worked not knowing what my future was, how I was going to put food on the table or provide any medical treatment for my children,” said Hala Ayala.

Workers came together Saturday in the spirit of joy to celebrate their organizing victories—including achieving paid sick days for home care workers—renew their commitment to one another, and reaffirm their resolve to keep fighting for justice.

The national home care workforce, which is 87 percent women, 60 percent people of color, and 30 percent immigrant, has been systematically excluded from worker protections. Home care workers didn't even have federal minimum wage protection until 2015. Virginia’s consumer-directed home care workers won paid sick days just this year, a landmark victory that was signed into law June 1.

Virginia law perpetuates a historical and substantial racial divide limiting to the types of work that include the choice to join a union; home care is one of the industries carved out. Virginia’s predominantly Black and brown home care workforce has been subjected to generations of oppressive labor laws rooted in racism and sexism, which have delayed care workers’ ability to adequately care for themselves, their patients, and their families.


SEIU Virginia 512 represents over 1,400 home care workers across our commonwealth. We advocate for quality care for older adults and people with disabilities, as well family-sustaining wages and benefits for home care workers in Virginia. We believe in good union jobs, at least $15/hour, health care, and justice for ALL.