92 Minn. L. Rev. 1390 (2007-2008)
The Publicization of Home-Based Care Work in State Labor Law

handle is hein.journals/mnlr92 and id is 1402 raw text is: Article

The Publicization of Home-Based Care
Work in State Labor Law
Peggie R. Smitht
Home-based care workers have experienced a labor meta-
morphism of sorts over the last decade. The workers, most of
whom are women,1 care for children and the elderly from with-
in the private sphere of the home in exchange for compensa-
tion.2 Once invisible and ignored, they have become darlings of
the labor movement. While they have not halted the persistent
decline in union density, they have helped to reinvigorate orga-
nized labor. The transformation first attracted national atten-
tion in 1999 when the Service Employees International Union
(SEIU) won the right to represent 74,000 home care workers in
Los Angeles, California.3 The victory marked the largest in-
crease since 1941 in new union membership resulting from a
single union election.4 Six years later, SEIU charted new terri-
tory once again when more than 49,000 family child care pro-
viders in Illinois voted overwhelmingly to join the union.5 The
t Professor of Law, University of Iowa, College of Law. J.D., Harvard
Law School, 1993; M.A., Yale University, 1990; B.A., Yale University, 1987.
For helpful comments and suggestions during the writing of this Article, I
wish to thank Rafael Gely and Margaret Raymond. The research for this Ar-
ticle was supported by an appointment at the Obermann Center for Advanced
Studies at the University of Iowa. Copyright © 2008 by Peggie R. Smith.
1. Ninety percent of all nursing home aides and home care aides are
women. Rhonda J.V. Montgomery et al., A Profile of Home Care Workers from
the 2000 Census: How It Changes What We Know, 45 GERONTOLOGIST 593,
595 (2005).
2. See infra notes 14-16 and accompanying text (defining family child
care and home care).
3. Linda Delp & Katie Quan, Homecare Worker Organizing in California:
An Analysis of a Successful Strategy, 27 LAB. STUD. J. 1, 2 (2002).
4. Id.; Stu Schneider, Victories for Home Health Care Workers, DOLLARS
& SENSE, Sept.-Oct. 2003, at 25, 26.
5. Peggie R. Smith, Welfare, Child Care, and the People Who Care: Union
Representation of Family Child Care Providers, 55 KAN. L. REV. 321, 321


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