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Advocates Press Lawmakers to Raise the Minimum Wage, Support Home Healthcare Workers

Michael Pope

Labor unions didn’t have much luck when Republicans were in power. But now that Democrats are in control of the legislature, groups that support workers are excited about having their agenda moving through the General Assembly.

Labor groups and their supporters gathered on Capitol Square to press for raising the minimum wage and implementing a home health care workers bill of rights — agenda items that were thwarted for years when Republicans were in power. But now that Democrats are in charge, groups like the SEIU and CASA are excited to have their agenda supported by people in power.

Josh King came here from Dumfries to be part of the rally. 

“Now is a great time to get some things passed," Dumfries says. "We’ve had some historical wins, and it’s time to see some legislation get through and stop being blocked every year.” 

Vanessa Griffin is a home health care worker in Norfolk, and she came to the rally to press for minimum standards.

“We’re trying to get benefits because we have no sick pay, no vacation pay and no health benefits at all," she explains. "So we are fighting for the bill of rights so we can be added to the bill of rights.”

The home health care workers bill of rights is a top priority for Democrats in the majority. And the debate over raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour isn’t about whether that should happen but about how fast it should happen.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.