Home-care aides — providers of hands-on care to older adults and people with disabilities — are one of Ohio’s fastest growing occupations, growing at more than five times the rate of overall jobs in the economy. Home-health and personal-care jobs continued to grow during the last two recessions, and the numbers of workers employed in the industry has nearly tripled since 2001. According to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), Ohio now has approximately 86,000 home-care aides, including 66,000 home-health aides, and 20,000 personal-care aides.
Rapid growth of the home-care industry is largely good news. Given most people’s preference for in-home care and the fact that home-based services are less expensive than institutional care, growth of the home-care industry is largely a win-win.
However, the home care industry is riddled with high turnover rates, workforce vacancies and related quality-of-care issues. This is largely the result of low job satisfaction due to low wages, part-time and unpredictable hours, and a lack of benefits that come with the job. In order to serve the growing public demand for these services, while ensuring continuity and quality of care, policymakers must address the need for better wages and benefits in the industry.
Our research found the dire working conditions of port truck drivers to have flowed from the practice of treating employees as if they were ‘independent contractors,’ an illegal practice called misclassification. At the time of our first report, there were practically no official government investigations to verify our findings despite a host of enforcement agencies being responsible for preventing misclassification.
That has now changed. Our findings match those coming from recent investigations of employment practices common in the industry by the United States Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, the National Labor Relations Board, and various state agencies. More importantly, these investigations signal a new dynamic, one with practical ramifications for the organization of work in the industry as well as for broader discussions of inequality in this country.
The trucking system at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is broken. As currently structured, this industry fails workers, businesses, neighbors, and anyone who breathes the air and drives the highways in Southern California. Port trucking is a chaotic, fragmented market, dominated by hundreds of tiny, undercapitalized motor carriers and brokers who earn profits only by undercutting market standards, creating a race to the bottom. Motor carriers at the Ports overwhelmingly misclassify drivers as
independent contractors rather than employees, allowing the trucking companies to disclaim responsibility for the conditions of the drivers and their trucks.
The key to solving this long-festering problem lies in the Ports’ role as landlords and proprietors of these valuable public assets. The Ports have an interest in clean, safe, sustainable growth, as well as a stable and secure Port complex and a continuing source of revenue. The Ports can achieve these goals by entering into a direct contractual relationship with responsible motor carriers who meet higher standards. This market-based approach will ensure fair competition based on efficiency and quality of service.
This report examines the benefits to workers and communities of a Clean Trucks Program.