By: Joey Garrison, USA TODAY April 12, 2021
WASHINGTON – Two weeks after Joe Biden won the 2020 election, Brittany Williams, a third-generation home care worker from Seattle, made a direct plea to the president-elect: deliver on his campaign promise to prioritize workers such as her.
“Caregivers – we’re the maintainers of life,” an impassioned Williams, 34, said during a Zoom call with health care workers hosted by the soon-to-be president.
Long overlooked and often ignored, caregiving was “literally birthed out of slavery and bondage,” Williams, an African American mother of two children, told Biden. After doctors treat the elderly and disabled, caregivers “maintain that care,” she said. They feed their patients, bathe them, dress them. They go to the grocery store and pharmacy on their behalf, putting their own health at risk during a pandemic.
“We continue to work our job because it means so much to us,” she said.
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Biden committed on the spot. Five months later, the president has proposed $400 billion to overhaul caregiving in the USA, making it one of the most significant planks of a $2.25 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan that would be funded by a corporate tax hike. Long-term care experts said it would mark a historic investment for a workforce that is 87% women – 61% women of color – earns an average of $12.12 an hour and includes many immigrants.