Skip to main content

In 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama participated in the SEIU's "walk a day in my shoes" campaign, in which politicians spent a day with SEIU members at their jobs. He spent his day with home care worker Pauline Beck. Thursday, she was at the White House for the announcement of the Obama administration's proposal to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers. In his remarks introducing the proposal, Obama spoke about his day with her, saying, "One day, back in 2007, Pauline was my boss...and I have tell you, it ended up being one of my favorite days of the entire campaign."
And one of the things I remember about Pauline was her patience. She was patient with me even when I didn’t wring out the mop properly or didn’t shake out the sheets before putting them in the laundry bin. But I also remember listening to her talk about the hardships in her life, and she did so without any self-pity. She was glad to be working hard and she was glad to be helping someone. All she wanted in return for a hard day’s work was enough to take care of those kids she was going home to, enough to save a little bit for retirement, maybe take a day off once in a while to rest her aching back. [...]

But here’s the thing: As the homecare business has changed over the years, the law hasn’t changed to keep up. So even though workers like Pauline do everything from bathing to cooking, they’re still lumped in the same category as teenage babysitters when it comes to how much they make. That means employers are allowed to pay these workers less than minimum wage with no overtime. That’s right -- you can wake up at 5:00 in the morning, care for somebody every minute of the day, take the late bus home at night, and still make less than the minimum wage. And this means that many homecare workers are forced to rely on things like food stamps just to make ends meet.

That’s just wrong. In this country, it’s unexcusable.

He also spoke about the reason it's necessary for his administration to take this action:

Four years ago, a homecare worker named Evelyn Coke took her case all the way up to the Supreme Court. And Evelyn was working up to 70 hours a week with no overtime pay. But the Court ruled against her, saying that to change the law would require action from Congress or the Department of Labor. I’m sure many of you won’t be surprised to know that Congress hasn’t acted on this issue so far.

Today, I will.

(It will take 60 days for his action to go into effect. But finally, we're on the way there.)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 11:16 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site