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Union representing home care workers supports home care registry bill

 The union representing Massachusetts home care workers is supporting a bill that would establish a registry for home care workers.

Several organizations representing the home care agencies oppose the bill, arguing it does not do enough to protect workers’ privacy.

But Tyrek Lee, Sr., executive vice president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, said the union believes the bill is a good idea.

Lee called the vote to send the bill to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk “a win for homecare workers and the thousands of individuals and families they serve across the Commonwealth.”

“As one of the fastest growing industries in Massachusetts, the homecare workforce deserves visibility, professionalization and greater access to training and advocacy opportunities,” Lee said.

According to Lee, 1199SEIU has worked with organizations that deal with domestic violence to develop exemptions that take into account worker privacy.

“The result is a strong bill that will provide much needed oversight of the homecare industry so that we can offer high quality care to patients and families and fair paying homecare jobs to hardworking employees,” Lee said.

The union represents 56,000 health care workers in Massachusetts.

The bill, H.3821, would require home care workers who work for state-contracted agencies to include in a database their name, home and mailing addresses, gender, job title, and training or certifications. The information could be reported to labor unions, home care worker agencies and private organizations that have state contracts to connect people with elder services. The bill includes exemptions for home care workers who may be victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or harassment.

The bill was introduced as a consumer protection measure, to ensure that seniors or people with disabilities know who is coming into their homes.

But advocates for the home care industry — including the Massachusetts chapter of the Home Care Association of America, the Home Care Aide Council and the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts — say exemptions are not enough to protect workers. They are urging a process that allows anyone to opt out for any reason. They have said they may consider a lawsuit if the bill becomes law.

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