When we fight we win: CARE Across Generations
By: Rani Gupta
Family and community are cornerstones of social justice. We know that if we want a strong movement, we need everyone to join in as we build a more just society. That is why, more and more, seniors and people with disabilities are fighting to stay in their homes, where they can live their lives with dignity and independence. However, we do not currently have the infrastructure to meet this need. So, all across the country, workers and care consumers are coming together through the Caring Across Generations campaign, a movement to transform long-term care in the U.S.
On June 16th, care workers and care consumers met for the Boston Care Congress, a town-hall style event that brought together 200 care workers, seniors, and people with disabilities to organize around the issue of care in the U.S. The Congress immediately followed the first annual Massachusetts Domestic Worker Convention, when domestic workers came together to start working to pass a Domestic Worker Bill of Rights in Massachusetts.
The Boston Care Congress began with keynote speaker Ai-Jen Poo, co-director of Caring Across Generations and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
“We are building a movement to create big change,” she said, highlighting that Caring Across Generations has the power to dramatically improve the lives of many in Massachusetts and across the country.
Afterward, a panel of local activists shared their care stories. The panel included members from 1199SEIU, the Boston Center for Independent Living, Matahari: Eye of the Day, the Multicultural Coalition on Aging, and the Massachusetts Senior Action Council. Some shared victories, while others shared their struggles in the workplace, but they all highlighted the need to build a collective movement to transform long-term care and rebuild our economy. Carolyn Villers of Mass Senior Action reminded attendees of the Congress to protect what we have, stating “there’s a targeted attack on the services and supports that care for all of us.”
The Congress then broke into small groups, where care workers and care consumers were able to share their stories and connect through shared struggles. Many older women bonded over their transition from being a former a care giver to a current care consumer. Joanne Prince, a leader in the senior community, brought a folder filled with family photographs to share. She noted that “we have to learn to come to the table” as different generations and work together to fight for a better future.
As the afternoon continued, participants were able to choose from a diverse array of workshops, which spanned topics from senior organizing to workplace conflict mediation. Workshops were both multi-lingual and cross-generational.
During the final section of the Congress, Sarita Gupta, Executive Director of Jobs with Justice, shared the next steps in the national movement for Caring Across Generations, which will focus on the fight to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Congress participants then took the Massachusetts Caring Across Generations pledge, committing to stay involved in the movement for a caring economy in Massachusetts and across the U.S.
The Boston Care Congress closed with a chant, care consumers and care workers shouting together: “Cuando luchamos, ganamos/Quando lutamos, nós ganhamos/When we fight we win!”