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Oregon lawmakers to Trump: Don't restrict workers' rights

August 14, 2018
In The News

WASHINGTON: - Democratic members of the Oregon congressional delegation, including Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Reps. Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader called on the Trump administration Friday to drop a proposed rule they said would unjustifiably restrict home care workers’ ability to form unions and collectively bargain for higher wages, better working conditions, expanded benefits and new training opportunities.


The letter, sent to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, comes as the shortened comment period for the proposed rule closes. The policy, if finalized, could harm over 28,000 home care workers in Oregon in addition to the seniors, families and individuals with disabilities that they serve.


“Home care workers provide critical daily support and services for seniors and individuals with disabilities. The services independent home care workers provide are essential to allowing individuals to remain in their home and community while receiving consumer-directed services,” the lawmakers wrote. 


“We are concerned that the proposed rule would interfere with and compromise the ability of workers to join together to form unions and collectively bargain for higher wages, better working conditions, expanded benefits, and new training opportunities to improve the quality of care they provide to Medicaid beneficiaries.” 


Oregon has one of the most rapidly aging populations in the country. Nearly one in six people in the state is age 65 or older, and the demand for home care services will continue to increase because the number of seniors in the state is projected to increase by 34 percent by 2030.  Despite the importance of this work, home care workers have historically been left out of worker protections and have had to fight to receive and maintain basic rights every step of the way.