Health Care Aides End Hunger Strike After Five Days, Call for Reform of 24-Hour Shifts

After 5 days, hunger strike to end 24-hour home health aide shifts comes to a close.

A hunger strike outside City Hall in New York came to an end on Monday after five days of fighting for an end to 24-hour shifts for health care aides. The 20 women who had been on hunger strike were met with flowers and applause as they returned to their daily lives, feeling both exhausted and energized from their experience.

One of the strikers, Lai Yee Chan, a 69-year-old home health aide for 22 years, expressed her gratitude for the support she received during the strike. She felt that the long shifts took away her freedom and left her feeling drained.

During a rally held in support of the hunger strikers, speakers emphasized the need to unite and fight against a system that they believe is exploitative. Councilman Christopher Marte introduced a bill in the City Council to ban 24-hour work shifts for health care aides. While opponents argue that state law allows for such shifts, critics claim that this issue should be addressed at the state level due to concerns about rising healthcare costs and potential service gaps.

Industry representatives and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams have been contacted for their perspectives on the issue. While opponents claim that current state law allows for 13 hours of pay for a 24-hour shift, hunger strikers and supporters disagree with this interpretation. Despite the hunger strike ending after five days, organizers have stated that this is just a pause and more protest actions are planned, including a larger one for May Day.

The rising demand for health care aides, coupled with a decreasing workforce, underscores the importance of reforming working conditions for these essential workers. Councilman Marte emphasized the need to eliminate 24-hour shifts, stating that no one should be subjected to such grueling work hours. In the face of ongoing challenges, the hunger strikers aim to rest, regroup, and return with renewed energy to continue advocating for change.

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