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Georgia Labor, Home Care Worker Advocates Urge Congress To Pass Build Back Better Act

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- Low wages are driving home care workers out of the industry, and the shortage is especially hitting home in Georgia. Advocates held rallies, demanding lawmakers on Capitol Hill pass the Build Back Better Agenda as the solution.

Labor advocates and community leaders rallied outside the nation's Capitol on November 16, 2021, as local leaders rallied inside the Georgia State Capitol. They said if Congress passes the legislation, it will address the home care worker shortage.

"Those health care workers are essential, and they should be treated as such," said Sandra Williams, executive director of the Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council.

"We demand that Build Back Better be passed with the same efficiency and fervor that the Infrastructure Bill was passed," said John Taylor, a national field director with the Service Employees International Union.

They discussed the desperate needs of the aging population and statements from workers like Latonya Jones Costa, who rallied in Washington, D.C. "Home care workers like me aren't able to fully provide like we need to, because we're understaffed, underpaid, and not valued as essential workers," said Community Advocate Kristen Toliver, who was reading a statement on behalf of Costa.

Opponents of the Build Back Better plan say it would raise taxes and inflation. Advocates say it would invest $150 billion into the industry, creating thousands of jobs.

"Eighty-seven percent of home workers in the country are women. In Georgia, it's a bit higher," Williams said.

According to workforce data collected by PHI, a national research organization, out of the more than 41,000 home care workers in Georgia, 93% are women, more than 60% of them are Black, 14% are immigrants and the median hourly wage is $10.54.

"We need it to pass the House. We need it to go to the Senate," said Taylor.

"Georgia delivered for you. Now, we want you to deliver for us," said State Sen. Sheik Rahman (D-5th, Lawrenceville).

U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have backed the legislation. Home care advocates are hoping other lawmakers will follow suit.

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