Protesting Chinese-American Planning Council and the 24-Hour Workday

Posted on: April 29th, 2021 at 5:04 am by

Photo: Eddie Panta

Yesterday, employees of the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) protested outside the headquarters of the nation’s largest Chinese-American social services organization at 150 Elizabeth Street in Chinatown. The action was for what they considered unfair wage practices as home-care attendees.

“End the 24-hour workday” and “No More 24” was the rallying cry from Chinese Staff and Worker’s Association (CSWA) and Ain’t I A Woman. Both worker’s rights groups and their supporters took aim at what they believe is the effective legalization of the 24-hour workday practiced by CPC’s nonprofit Home Attendant Program (HAP).

A press release by CSWA stated that CPC, “touted various progressive beliefs, most recently speaking at solidarity rallies in Queens and joining anti-violence allies to call for an end to Asian hate crimes, all the while continuing to abuse and exploit their employees.”

Photo: Eddie Panta

When Bob Angles, a labor member of the NYC Democratic Socialist of America (NYC DSA), spoke at the rally, he said that Jenny Lam Low, a former executive at CPC, who also happens to live just down the street from protest, had offered to represent the workers, but was roundly rejected. Hence, protesters chanted “Just say no to Jenny Low,” as the former CPC exec is now running for City Council in the district.

In contrast, Christopher Marte, who is also running for the same City Council seat, has aligned with the workers’ cause and supported them at various rallies around the city. But the plight of these minority workers was personal too as Marte explained in a twitter post.

“My mom is a home attendant, and as a child I would go days without seeing her,” he posted. “Even now when home attendants are on the frontlines of this pandemic, they are still forced to fight for the most basic right to work reasonable hours.”

Current City Councilmember Margaret Chin was not represented at today’s protest and Jenny Lam Low did not return a request for comment prior to the publication of this article.

A statement from CPC published on its website and social media appeared to agree with the workers right to full pay for every hour work or at least split shifts to alleviate the heavy 24-hour workday burden, but said that it was working in accordance with New York State Law governing homecare workers.

Jenny Lam Low echoed CPC’s statements in a presser released yesterday as follows:

CPC and its subsidiary, the CPC Home Attendant Program, Inc. (HAP) has been fully complying with all Medicaid rules, period. But there’s a huge problem with the 24-hour workday and I join CPC in calling for ending this rule. New York State must immediately end the 24-hour rule in favor of two 12-hour split shifts where home care workers are fully compensated for each hour worked. The 24-hour rule is set and enforced by the State of New York, and nonprofit home care agencies like HAP are limited by the pay rates and requirements laid out by the State and collective bargaining agreements. This is not just an issue affecting CPC but it’s an industry-wide issue which the State must immediately rectify.

To this though, CSAW and their supporters said they will continue to fight for fair wages and changes to New York State labor law. And also for back pay for wages on days were homecare attendees worked 24hour shifts but were only paid for 13 hours.

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