FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug 4, 2023
Contact: Christina Coleman, [email protected]
20 of the country’s largest unions, grassroots groups launch “Care Can’t Wait Action” to mobilize tens of millions of voters
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, an unprecedented coalition of the country’s largest labor unions and advocacy organizations are announcing the creation of “Care Can’t Wait Action,” a new $50 million issue-advocacy and electoral campaign to mobilize tens of millions of voters and centering care as a winning issue for candidates in 2024.
“Care Can’t Wait Action” will serve as the hub for the nationwide, multi-organizational efforts to grow the grassroots support and political power needed to pass legislation in 2025 that ensures new investments in child care, guarantees paid family and medical leave, and expands home- and community-based services.
Collectively, “Care Can’t Wait Action” represents one of the largest coalitions of labor unions, advocacy organizations, and grassroots groups focused on care in history. Its member organizations, which represent tens of millions of members, include:
To help put care at the forefront of the conversation in 2023, 2024, and beyond, this unprecedented coalition will:
This effort comes less than one year after the largest investment in care in American history narrowly fell short of becoming law, passing the U.S. House of Representatives and coming within one vote of passing the U.S. Senate as part of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. With American voters supporting new investments in care by a wide margin and opposing Republican attempts to cut funding for programs like Medicaid, one of the main goals of the coalition will be to demonstrate power to ensure that legislation of this size and magnitude clears the final hurdle during the next Congress.
“Care forms the bedrock of our families, communities, and economy; it is a fundamental reminder of the universal need for human connection. At some point in our lives, every one of us, including our political leaders, will require care. That’s why—within a year of the largest investment in care falling just one vote short of becoming law—an empowering coalition is uniting to build public pressure, mobilize voters, and elect candidates committed to prioritizing the care agenda in 2025. By recognizing the existing and crucial voter support for care investments and opposition to cuts in programs like Medicaid, this coalition is poised to demonstrate its power. We urgently call upon Congress to enact a comprehensive, 21st-century care infrastructure that uplifts families, empowers caregivers, and paves the way for the creation of sustainable, secure, and well-compensated jobs. Together, we can ensure that transformative care legislation becomes a reality for our shared future,” said Ai-jen Poo, Senior Advisor to Care in Action.
“We all know that care work is critical to our economy, yet care workers keep getting short changed,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “Shoring up child care and aging and disability care and passing a federal paid leave policy are long overdue. It’s time for lawmakers to do their jobs and support the workers who make it possible for us to do ours. We are proud to join the Care Can’t Wait Action because we know that this must be a mobilizing issue for working people across the country in 2024 and beyond.”
“It’s no exaggeration to say that caregiving is one of our society’s most critical jobs. Providers ensure the safety and well-being of millions of people—including children, seniors, those dealing with behavioral health challenges, and people with disabilities who need help to lead independent lives. Despite the overwhelming demand for these essential services, there is still a massive shortage of care workers, because for too long they have been underpaid and undervalued. To build a stronger care economy, we need to elect candidates who are committed to investing in and improving this work. Through Care Can’t Wait Action, we can educate and mobilize our communities, sending a powerful message that care is on the ballot in 2024, ensuring that providers and the families who depend on them have the support they need every day,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders.
“Care work makes all other work possible, helping children learn and grow, protecting the injured, ill and aging, and keeping our neighborhoods safe. The work of our union is to help make care jobs good, family-sustaining ones, where the folks providing the care can themselves access healthcare, as well as economic opportunity in safe work environments,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “Unfortunately, care work remains largely invisible: unprotected by labor laws, and all too often, informal, and unrecognized for just how important it is—and just how important care workers are to the fabric of our society and the functioning of our economy. Care workers matter and this work is part of a family-first agenda to help real people access the real things they need to work, learn, and access opportunities.”
“Home care is literally keeping me alive,” said Ady Barkan, Co-Executive Director and Founder of Be A Hero Action Fund. “But across the country, almost a million children, adults and seniors with disabilities sit on waiting lists for home and community-based care, and home care workers are severely underpaid in every single state. It’s time to build the political power we need to change this.”
“Health care, including home care, should be a right for everyone. This election cycle, Be A Hero Action Fund will activate thousands of people who need home care and their loved ones to demand just that,” said Jamila Headley, Co-Executive Director of Be A Hero Action Fund.
“The pandemic exposed what working people across the country already knew: Our economy is not set up to meet the needs of hardworking families,” said Sondra Goldschein, Executive Director of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy. “Voters overwhelmingly support policies like paid family and medical leave and affordable child care because they know what a difference these things would make in their daily lives. I’m thrilled this coalition is coming together to build the political power necessary to pass these policies and make care a key issue in 2024.”
“Creating a child care system that works for families, providers, and our kids is critical to advancing racial and gender justice,” says Erica Gallegos, Co-Director of the Child Care for Every Family Network. “We’ve built a united network that includes over 1,000 parents, providers, organizers and advocates from across the country who are ready to win. Together, we will secure the investments and power we need at the local, state, and national level to build a child care system that is equitable, culturally-relevant, accessible, affordable, and able to meet the diverse needs of all our families and providers.”
“Our child care system needs major long-term investments to make it work for all of our families,” said Dorian Warren, Co-President of Community Change Action. “Care workers should not be between a rock and hard place to make ends meet while caring for our children. Parents should be able to work because their children have a safe place to go. And kids should receive the high-quality care and education they need to thrive in school. When we organize, we can win the transformational changes required to bring our care system into the 21st century and address wage and racial gaps. We’re excited to partner with so many dynamic organizations to achieve our vision for the country.”
“In California we have one of the most robust long-term care programs in the country, and yet our caregivers make just above minimum wage. Our family child care providers are the backbone of our state’s economy, but after expenses many take home less than $5 per hour—in the fifth largest economy in the world,” said United Domestic Workers Executive Director Doug Moore. “This is why we need strong leadership at the federal level, and why we are proud members of the Care Can’t Wait Action coalition: so that care workers across the country can win the wages and benefits they deserve, the dignity and respect they have earned, and the promise that the people in their care won’t be left behind.”
“Moms, parents, and caregivers are working hard and deserve leaders who advance policies that give us tools to build good lives for ourselves and to lift the economy at the same time. We know how to solve the care crisis we collectively face, and now’s the time to take action. Paid family and medical leave, quality, affordable child care, and home- and community-based services are key solutions of paramount importance to America’s moms and we expect them to be of paramount importance to lawmakers, too,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director and CEO of MomsRising Together. “Moms are engaged and mobilized like never before because we know that finally building the care infrastructure we need will boost moms and families, businesses and our economy. We are determined to make 2024 the year we win these popular, badly needed, long-overdue policies!”
“We all need to receive or provide care at some point in our lives—whether it’s when we fall ill ourselves or we must tend to the health and wellbeing of a child, spouse, partner, parent or chosen family member,” said Jocelyn Frye, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families Action Fund. “Our organization is proud to join the Care Can’t Wait Action coalition and lift up investments in care and caregivers as urgent policy priorities that resonate strongly with voters of all backgrounds—and with women and women of color, in particular. It is long past the time to enact transformational changes that can unleash the full potential of working families and our entire economy.”
“Our country is in a care crisis—families from every walk of life are grappling with the challenge of accessing high-quality, affordable care. Meanwhile, the largely women of color workforce who provide this vital care are barely getting paid enough to get by,” said Fatima Gross Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center Action Fund. “Congress has delayed addressing this crisis for far too long. That is why the National Women’s Law Center Action Fund is proud to join Care Can’t Wait Action to help mobilize voters and elect leaders who are committed to fixing this broken system and making care a top priority.”
“This election will be a referendum on care. These policies are the most widely supported—and broadly impactful—in the country. Their passage would yield millions of jobs, billions in wages, and trillions in GDP. These are urgent economic imperatives and must remain at the top of the agenda of unfinished business. If our only hurdle has been political, then we are building the political solution. This coalition will ensure care won’t be sidelined again, but instead prioritized and passed,” said Dawn Huckelbridge, from Paid Leave for All Action.
“Care workers are essential to the well being of our families and our nation. Yet, too often, their needs and unique challenges have been ignored. This historic partnership will work to center their experiences while strengthening their voting power,” said Danielle Butterfield, Executive Director of Priorities USA Action. “Priorities USA is proud to be a part of this important coalition and we look forward to working together towards a more just and equitable society for care workers which includes expansions in paid family and medical leave, child care and community based services.”
“The care workforce—mostly women of color—are essential to our families and our economy. But for too long these workers have been written out of the rules and denied the most basic protections and rights, including the right to form their union to build better lives for themselves and their families. By coming together, this coalition can lift the demands of all care workers—to be respected, protected, and paid—and dismantle the structural racism that holds all working people back,” said Mary Kay Henry, President of SEIU.
“To create a world where everyone is truly equal, women and our families must be supported—and that requires care being prioritized by our country’s leaders,” said Jess Herrera, Communications and Marketing Director at Supermajority. “Far too often, the issues that matter most to women are left on the chopping block. But women voters, especially young women, were the ones who made the difference in the 2022 election. We know that building the women’s voting bloc is our greatest hope for change—and we know that in 2024, women won’t be backing down from voting out power-hungry politicians and voting in leaders who support the policy we need and deserve.”
For interview inquiries or if you’d like to learn more about Care Can’t Wait Action, please email Christina Coleman at [email protected]
Care in Action is the policy and advocacy home for women who care, working on behalf of more than two million domestic workers and care workers across America. Among the fastest-growing sectors in our economy, domestic workers are also among the most vulnerable and undervalued. As a mostly women and majority women of color workforce, this growing constituency consistently and overwhelmingly supports progressive values in American political life. Learn more at www.careinaction.us.