Transcript of Speaker Pelosi’s Remarks at SEIU’s ‘Care Can’t Wait, Time to Deliver’ Press Event

September 23, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Member of Congress, essential home care workers and advocates at the United States Capitol Visitor Center to advocate for investments in home care in the Build Back Better package.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you very much, April.  And aren’t we proud of the California SEIU?  Largest union in California.  Thank you, darling.  And we’re proud of the work she has – SEIU has done.  Well, April and Mary Kay – Madam President Mary Kay Henry – have been so on this case for a long time.  We've had hearings in California over the years, and we're successful.  We’ve had some level of success in California, but I will not be happy until we have a level of success nationally.  And unionized, unionized for our workers.

This is a time when our home health care needs and those who meet them had leverage in a very important debate in the Congress of the United States.  This is not incidental to the legislation.  It is very, very central, because it goes to the heart of the matter, that we're about working families in our country and that we want not only the people who are caregivers at home – being able to go to work because they have good care at home, but we want the respect to be there for the workers in the home.  I always like to tell this story because for years, we've been having these hearings in California.  And I was able to tell a story of one of our witnesses who came regularly to our meetings.  And she was talking about when she wanted to charge more for her services.  And the family was like, ‘Well, I don't know.’  She said, ‘Well, if you don't think I'm worth it, do you think your mother’s worth it?’

[Laughter]

And of course, our families are all worth it.  Ady Barkan and so many of you have been so much a part of this.  This is the heart of the matter.  It not only gives leverage to the home care workers, which is essential, as I say I want them to be able to unionize.  It gives leverage to people with disabilities, some of whom need the care at home.  It gives leverage to anyone who has some reason why they need care at home.  So, it's really a value.  When they talked about, ‘Well, how much does it cost?’  Let’s worry about the value that it gives to our lives.

And it is part of a bigger bill when we're talking about Build Back Better.  Build Back Better With Women.  And many of the caregivers are men, and we respect that as well.  And many of the people who need care or need to have care at home so that they can go to work are men.  But, by and large, the caregivers have largely been women – both in terms of meeting their own family's needs, but also caregivers that are employed in that situation.

So, this is something that – I mean, we started out in a big price, I hope we can be at the highest level.  I was pleased to hear what the Senator had to say about that.  But it is, again, a tremendous value to us.  And when people say, ‘Oh, it's too big.’  Yeah, well, what would you cut?  Would you cut care for people with disabilities or seniors who need help or children who are sick on a prolonged basis?  What would you cut?  Would you cut family and medical leave – paid-for family and medical leave?  Would you cut child care where you can’t – cut universal pre-K?  What would you cut?  Would you cut the child care tax credit?  We’re talking about our people.  We’re talking about our people.  Why?  Because you don't want to tax the richest people in America?  We’re not punitive.  We don't resent any of their success.  But we do want them to pay their fair share.  We want them to pay their fair share. 

[Applause]

So, for so many reasons, I thank all of you.  Good, I like this: ‘America needs union jobs.’  I love it, because what I always say is: the backbone of our democracy in our country is the middle class and everybody who aspires to it.  And in America, that democracy depends on a strong middle class and those who aspire to it.  And that middle class has a union label on it.  So, let us thank you for your patriotism and your care for people.

Because we should be in addition – and you know what gets me is, when they talk about the infrastructure bill, they say it’s a jobs bill.  This is a jobs bill, too.  It’s a jobs bill, too.  It’s a jobs bill that goes to many more women, people of color and the rest.  So, it engages more people, adequately compensated, respected for their work, hopefully unionized, so that we can do the best possible job For The People, For The Children, for America's working families.

So, it’s important that you're here now.  Thank you for being here.  It’s really important that you’re here now.  So, thank you all very much.  Nice to be with you.  Thank you for everything.  And thank you, April.