Sunday, June 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Home care workers win basic labor rights

The women, and it is mostly women, who are trusted to provide care to America's elderly and disabled are finally getting some dignity for themselves. The Obama administration has made good on a promise to bring home care workers under federal wage and hour law. The announcement earlier this month was greeted by cheers from workers and complaints from the $80 billion industry that employs them. But granting home care workers basic labor rights is fair and socially beneficial. It will provide a better living for low-skilled workers and stabilize a workforce that suffers from notoriously high turnover.

For nearly the last 40 years, home health care workers have been wrongly categorized as "companionship services" similar to baby-sitters, which removed them from protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Home aides are not glorified baby-sitters. They do jobs that help seniors and the disabled stay in their homes. Without this essential and growing workforce of nearly 2 million workers, more people would end up in institutionalized care and nursing homes. Home care aides provide their clients with cooked meals, help them bathe and shop, transport them to doctor appointments and perform other chores that infirm people can no longer accomplish on their own. The only reason the companion designation has stuck around so long is that the politically powerful home care franchises wanted it that way.

Under the new federal rule, home care aides will be covered by the nation's leading wage and hour law that will grant them federal minimum wage and overtime protections. Most home care workers already make at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour ($7.79 per hour in Florida), but the promise of overtime pay of time-and-a-half after 40 hours per week could be a substantial added benefit, considering the job often demands long hours. The rule change doesn't go into effect until January 2015, which gives employers and state Medicaid programs plenty of time to adjust.

The people in these jobs are a vulnerable group of low-wage, service workers. Ninety-two percent are women, and about 40 percent are black and Hispanic. Many are immigrants. These are often single mothers raising families, but the wages they take home are so low that 40 percent of them qualify for government safety net benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid.

The industry claims the added cost of overtime pay will limit access to in-home care and land the elderly in nursing homes instead. It warns that home care workers will lose out when agencies cut back on hours rather than award overtime. The evidence suggests otherwise. Fifteen states already provide minimum wage and overtime protections to home care aides. No negative impacts on workers' hours or on the utilization of in-home services have resulted.

The rule change recognizes in-home care as a real job. This raises the job's stature, makes recruitment into the field easier and helps retains the best care providers. That will be good for economy and for the elderly and their families who rely so heavily on this care.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18