Do we care? - Page 6

Local activists push for better recognition for caregiving professions

Lil Milagro Martinez (left) wants all domestic workers to be treated with the same respect she afford to the nanny of her son.

The SF-based lawyer who filed the lawsuit, Stacey Leyton, told us this was the best settlement possible given the current political climate and the risk of deeper cuts if the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the state's favor. But she thinks any IHHS cuts are short-sighted: "Any cuts to home care may balance the budget ledger now, but they can cause more costs later in the form of nursing home care and emergency room visits."

James Chionsini, a community organizer with the Senior and Disability Action (SDA, formerly Senior Action Network), tells us that in addition to the sheer size of the "silver tsunami" coming through — which will require a huge influx of caregivers — efforts by the federal and state governments to contain medical costs could hurt the "upper-poor," who are required to somehow pay a share of their MediCal health care costs.

That's one reason why SDA, POWER, and other groups are supporting several campaigns aimed at creating a more caring society, from the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to Caring Across Generations to basic, bread-and-butter political organizing efforts.

"Organizing is so important," Garza said, while Chionsini said, "It's about raising the profile of people who are providing care."

Milagro said that if the immigrant women who do domestic work score a major victory, that could empower other marginalized groups. "It's about a change in consciousness," she said. "This can show a path for other movements to build, strengthen, and work together."

Garza agrees that important, foundational changes are already underway, even though they will require lots of hard organizing work to bring them to fruition.

"There is a groundswell. This is happening," she said, noting that it revolves around asking important questions. "How do you look at an economy not rooted in patriarchy? What would it look like if we had to compensate mothers?"

Next week: Part II, Do we care about the natural world?