Standing with other homecare workers in the fight for $15 an hour

My name is Heather Wagner, and I have been a caregiver for 22 years. For about one year, I worked for Visiting Angels.

Today, along with other homecare workers and our community supporters, I was part of delivering an open-letter to Visiting Angels calling on them to start paying workers $15 an hour. Instead of hearing our concerns, the people at Visiting Angels refused to listen to us, and even threw the letter onto the sidewalk as we exited. Unfortunately, this is pretty typical of the way they treat workers and clients.

This past spring, I became concerned that my regular client had become resistant to my help when transferring him from his bed to his wheelchair. I informed the management at Visiting Angels that his situation needed to be assessed; two-person transfers or a special lift would be needed in order to move him safely from bed to wheelchair. 

I also told them I was really worried that one of us would be hurt if the situation stayed the same. 

But Visiting Angels told me they had already visited this client and that everything was ok. They never did observe me working with him or saw the way he resisted transfers. 

On April 22nd, the client again became resistant during a transfer and I hurt my back. My injury is so severe that I now need to use a wheelchair, and I am in need of homecare services myself. I will most likely never again be able to support my family by working as a caregiver.

No one from Visiting Angels has ever called to check in on me or to see how I am feeling. On top of all this, they still owe me 17 hours of sick time, which they refuse to pay me.

Despite the fact that I can no longer work, I am going to continue standing with other homecare workers in the fight for $15 an hour. If I had made $15 an hour while I was working, I would have been able to spend more time with my family and the other significant people in my life. 

As caregivers, we do incredibly important work that deserves respect and decent pay. What we’re asking for isn’t too much, only that our work is valued fairly and that we are able to take care of ourselves and our families.

Sign our open letter to Portland-Area Homecare agencies