Delaying Fair Pay for Home Care Workers is an Injustice

Caregiver_resizedThe Department of Labor (DOL) has sought to improve working conditions for home care workers by implementing a rule that grants these workers minimum wage and overtime protection. When the rule was finalized in September 2013, NCLR and its allies declared it a long-overdue victory for two million home care workers. Despite a full notice-and-comment process, accepting and considering tens of thousands of public comments, and an unprecedented 15-month implementation period, Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia blocked the rule in January. In response, DOL has filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

We firmly support boosting wages for home care workers, and last week we joined in the submission of an amicus brief to support DOL in its appeal of Judge Leon’s ruling. Twenty percent of home care workers are Latino. Fair pay would not only help reduce high turnover in this industry, but would also bring stability and higher-quality care to those who depend on home care workers.

“The Supreme Court has already decided that DOL was well within its authority to grant these much-needed protections to home care workers. To continue to stall implementation of these rules—basic labor protections that home care workers have been excluded from for 40 years—is not only unjust, it is a slap in the face to those who we rely on to care for our loved ones,” said Eric Rodriguez, Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation at NCLR, in a statement. “Home care workers have waited long enough for fair pay. Further delay of these regulations is unacceptable.”

The legal underpinnings of DOL’s appeal are firm and we are confident in standing with the department. As the case makes its way through the legal system, we will continue to work with the states to help them build on the groundwork laid to implement these rules.

New Report Shows Improved Latino Educational Achievement, Persistent Disparities

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The Latino dropout rate has seen a steady decline over the last two decades to an all-time low of 12.7 percent among 16-24-year-olds–less than half of the 1993 rate of 27 percent. These findings were released in a new NCLR education brief, “Latinos in New Spaces: Emerging Trends and Implications for Federal Education Policy.” The publication comes just as Congress begins debating the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the student population, and by 2023, they will represent almost 30 percent of all students enrolled in U.S. schools.

“Latino children have made important strides in our schools, and their educational achievement is attributed to their own hard work, along with rising academic expectations and standards by school districts, administrators, teachers and parents,” said Eric Rodriguez, Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation, NCLR. “The data show why the civil rights community has supported increased accountability and standards-based education reforms for the last two decades.”

As of 2012, Latino students had a high school completion rate of 73 percent, which was an increase from 61 percent in 1993. Between 2000 and 2013, the percentage of eighth-grade Hispanic students who achieved or surpassed proficiency levels in mathematics more than doubled. College attendance has also reached a record high: Hispanics enrolled in postsecondary education increased from 13.4 percent in 1972 to 37.5 percent in 2012.

While these gains represent significant improvements, more is needed if Latinos are to reach parity with their peers. In reading proficiency, only 22 percent of Latinos score at or above proficiency, compared to 46 percent of their White counterparts. They are also less likely to be enrolled in preschool. Fifty-seven percent of of Latino three- to five-year-olds were enrolled in preschool, compared to 66.7 percent of Whites and 65.8 percent of Black students.

“The gains that Latino schoolchildren have made are impressive, and it’s important that we continue to build on this success. That is why we must ensure that Congress passes a robust ESEA that maintains a commitment to equity in our schools and vital civil rights protections,” said Rodriguez. “A decade ago, national education policy put a spotlight on Latinos and English language learners, which led to increased accountability and standards that have produced results. Reforms should make our schools better and ensure that all children have an equal chance at getting a good education.”

Read the whole report below:

The President’s Budget Makes Critical Investments in Latino Families

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Photo: White House

The president’s proposed 2016 budget would in effect repeal sequestration while at the same time provide funding for critical programs that help middle- and low-income families. We support President Obama’s vision for the future and encourage Congress to pass a budget that targets communities that have yet to feel the benefits of the economic recovery.

In a statement today, Eric Rodriguez, NCLR vice president of the Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation called on Congress to find a way to work with the White House in passing a sensible budget.

“We hope that Congress can find common ground on key aspects of the president’s vision to invest in children, strengthen working families, and grow the economy,” said Rodriguez. “Latino families bore the much of the brunt of sequestration, making it clear that we cannot cut our way to a better future. Ensuring better returns on hard work and greater investment in educational opportunities for all students, regardless of background or family income, are critical to the success of Latino families and the country as a whole.”

Included in the president’s budget is $1 billion in additional funding for the Head Start program as well as $1 billion more for Title 1 to support low-income schools. President Obama also reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. The refundable portions of these credits are set to expire in 2017. Without action from Congress to make permanent the 2009 policies that targeted low-wage workers and larger families, 16 million Americans, including three million Latino kids, could be pushed even further into poverty.

“The president has provided a solid framework for Congress to work from,” said Rodriguez. “We implore our lawmakers to work together to pass a responsible budget that both grows our economy and invests in working families.”

Read our analysis of the president’s 2016 budget below.

Minimum Wage Increase Coming Soon to Federal Contractor Employees

USCurrency_Federal_ReserveEmployees of federal contractors who make minimum wage will soon notice a boost in their paychecks. Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Labor finalized a rule that increased the minimum wage for this group to $10.10. The Economic Policy Institute says the new rule sets a floor on wages for almost 20 percent of federal contractors earning less than poverty-level wages, mostly minorities and women. We wholeheartedly support this rule and are thrilled to see it finalized.

“NCLR commends the administration for raising the wages of employees who do business with the federal government,” said NCLR Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation, Eric Rodriguez in a statement. “Not only is this the right thing to do to lift working families out of poverty and to help them keep pace with the rising cost of living, but it should also be a catalyst for Congress to boost the federal minimum wage.”

The new rule is estimated to affect 200k new workers and will apply to employees who work on new or renewed contracts issued after Jan. 2015.

Unfortunately, Congress failed to pass a similar minimum wage increase for all workers this year. Their inaction leaves nearly 28 million people, one-quarter of whom are Latino, at the current paltry rate of $7.25. We will continue to fight for an increase so that Latinos, and workers in general, don’t have to worry about earning enough to cover even their most basic expenses.

Latino Poverty Rates in Decline, Household Financial Anxiety Remains High

highway-guardrail_560x292New Census data is out which shows that Latinos’ hard work is translating into higher income and lower poverty. According to the data, there were 900,000 fewer Latinos, including 500,000 fewer Latino kids, who were living in poverty in 2013 compared to the year prior. The poverty rate is still alarmingly high at 23.5 percent for 2013, but the new data shows some improvement.

“We are pleased to see an improvement in these indicators of economic well-being. Half a million fewer Latino children in poverty is a testament to our community’s commitment to hard work and sacrifice,” said Vice President of Policy, Eric Rodriguez in a statement. “However, all American workers, including Latinos, would have experienced greater gains had it not been for the congressional choices that have stunted economic growth and slashed investments in education, housing and nutrition services. This austerity agenda, together with stagnant wages, has left too many working families without sufficient income or supports to meet their basic needs.”

You can read more in our analysis of the data, available below.

2013 Data Latino Poverty Analysis