in the news

Marta Russell ap888 at
Mon Mar 1 18:18:26 PST 1999

Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

> Michael Perelman wrote:
> >The discussion between Marta and Yoshi indicates that the attendants look
> >down upon the disabled while the disabled look down upon the lower class
> >attendants. We might have a problem here.
> Indeed. And I am sure that this problem of conflict between those who offer
> personal service and those who are served exists even when the work in
> question is unpaid one performed by family members (mainly women).

The discussion about hiring firing and strikes is really moot. As I mentioned before the SEIU has already agreed with WID on the disabled persons right to hire, fire and the no strike clause.

We are in agreement that workers need better wages and health care. No one is arguing that is badly needed for a host of reasons.

I think you may be so stuck in ideology that neither of you want to admit that any working person can be short of perfect.

What is different in this situation (as opposed to Yoshie's analogy to Michael Perelman's students not having the right to fire him) is that the incompetent or abusive attendant worker puts the LIFE of the disabled person in the mix.

Would you say that the attendant that punctured my friend's intestine and did not know that he did so should come back the next day to perform the same duty??? The disabled person does not have 1 day or 3 weeks luxury to wait for a union to sort it out. That is what no one seems to accept in the equation here.

We need to get beyond this management/worker equation to what is reasonable. Is it reasonable for a disabled person or any person to allow someone to perform a task which they cannot perform when it can result in such damage? Remember my friend almost died from this event. He had to have emergency surgery and was hospitalized for weeks.

I would say that if a person did not dismiss the attendant that punctured his intestine he would be seriously mentally unbalanced. What you don't seem to comprehend is that these tasks are necessary every day. It is not a matter of a class one may teach once or twice a week. It involves a human being's life.


> >In response to your post I am curious: Why is taking care of a disabled person
> >"unpleasant" and "tough enough work?" Is it as tough as construction or
> >cleaning city streets for the sanitation dept? Is it tough because it is
> >disgusting to touch an old person? What is it exactly that makes it so tough?
> Personal service has its own special difficulties that other lines of work
> that are equally tough mentally or physically do not share. Personal
> service for the disabled, the sick, and/or the old is emotionally draining
> (1) if you try to do your job well, because in that case you would want to
> be sensitive to needs of those who are served and (2) if physical, mental,
> or psychological conditions of the disabled, the sick, and/or the old whom
> you take care of worsen under your care. Care-giving would be still tough
> even if you were taking care of your own kin for free (here I'm remembering
> how we had to take care of my maternal grandfather, maternal grandmother,
> and paternal grandmother; my maternal grandma suffered from not only cancer
> but also Alzheimer's). If you were doing the job for strangers (who suspect
> you of stealing something from their homes or of being "flakes" or
> whatever) for paltry wages of four or five dollars per hour, you would at
> least feel less burdened by the ideology of love, but nonetheless the work
> would be really tough, in the same sense that "women's work" of care-giving
> has been always tough. (BTW, I didn't use the word unpleasant, though I do
> think that _most jobs_ that are available in the world are all unpleasant
> in many ways.)
> >Also, why do you think that if people are paid better that they will perform
> >better on the job?
> I didn't simply mention better wages. Allow me to quote myself. I wrote:
> "Wouldn't disabled persons be able to expect better service if homecare
> workers were paid better, trained better, given a light workload, and
> regarded as highly skilled workers?" Probably a "light workload" is the
> most important thing here from the point of view of those who are being
> served. However, higher wages too are very important, both for workers and
> the disabled. In fact, I'll even go so far as to say that low wages for
> attendants are in part a reflection of the low regard for those who are
> served by them--the prejudice against the disabled. (The same for low wages
> & lack of respect for teachers in America!)
> >Here the former "inmates" talk about
> >rape, beatings, lying in their own feces. The unions haven't solved these
> >matters either. Why not? The workers are not blind, (though a blind person
> >would know when someone is being beaten) they can see what is happening?
> >
> >I guess that until "healthy" people become ill or old and have to live in one
> >of these hell holes to have some of these experiences you will fail to
> >comprehend the depth of other people's visciousness towards the aged and
> >people with disabilities. It is obvious to me, someone who hears real stories
> >of abuse from many sources, why we need to retain the right to fire someone on
> >the spot. It is simply to stop the abuse. You cannot rely on anyone else to
> >do it.
> I know that this problem exists, but wouldn't you think that it is better
> workers who will leave the care-giving work when you make it more difficult
> to improve their working conditions? Would Michael Perelman continue his
> teaching _if his students could fire him on the spot_?
> >Another way they can get a pay increase without striking is to insist on
> >raising the minimum wage to a living wage - on the federal level.
> Isn't this easier said than done? How do you increase the minimum wage to a
> living wage on the federal level, with the current low level of
> unionization? Wouldn't we need a more powerful labor movement than we have
> now in order to do that? Isn't the unionization of home care workers a tiny
> step in the right direction in this regard?
> >Again, I think "healthy" people have a hard time understanding how much
> >incompetence there is out there in these professions. Yes, I absolutely do
> >think one should be able to fire a doctor (and any other health care person)
> >on the spot, that is one reason why I am against HMOs. I've seen some doctors
> >make some horrible decisions. A friend of mine in NYC had a near death
> >experience when his attendant punctured his colon but no one knew this at the
> >time. Still when my friend got a high fever and terrible pains his doctor
> >told him to wait it out, not to go to the hospital. Finally after hours of
> >unecessary suffering his girlfriend got him to a hospital without the doctor's
> >recommendation where they discovered internal bleeding. He almost died because
> >of this combination of events. WE are the best judges of what we need, not
> >doctors, not nurses, not attendants and WE should be able to make decisions
> >about who does what to our bodies and who does not. It is the same principle
> >that women use regarding abortion. Our bodies, ourselves.
> Well, pregnancy is not a disability that we must live with; nor is it a
> sickness that we must be cured of or manage, most of the times. We have
> abortions because we _want to_ (or need to). That said, you are right that
> in many cases we may be the "best judges of what we need," but if it were
> always the case, there would be no need of doctors who make diagnoses,
> explain treatment options, etc. We would be able to perform those tasks
> without doctors, wouldn't we, if we really knew everything. I think that
> you may be making too general a judgment about the relationship among
> medicine, medical professionals/workers, and patients, based mainly upon
> experiences of the disabled who already are well acquainted with their
> bodies, conditions, needs, and options. Not all people who need others'
> care, medical or otherwise, fall into this category. Some of us are even
> (temporarily or chronically) mentally incapable of staying on top of
> everything, due to pain, lack of education, brain damages, retardation,
> Alzheimer's, etc.
> Yoshie

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