How Four Black Women Changed Homecare Organizing Forever


Their names were Irma Sherman, Doris Gould, Juanita Hill, and Mary Williamson. 40 years ago in Chicago, these homecare workers for the McMaid company sparked a movement.

Irma and her coworkers knew they were being abused and they organized to stop it. Little did they know that their titanic struggle with their employer would require pioneering new tactics and strategies, lead to new models of organizing, and spark one of the largest organizing successes in modern labor history.

Keith KelleheR

At the time home care workers made at or below the then federal and state minimum wage of $3.35 with few to no benefits.  Today home care workers earn an average of $17.25 an hour and are currently bargaining for $25 an hour plus retirement for this vital work. In addition, they’ve won paid health coverage, paid training, paid overtime, paid holidays, paid sick days, pandemic pay, and many other benefits. Still not enough, but closer than ever to living wage jobs.

Read the full story from Keith Kelleher, the founder of ULU Local 880 and the former president of SEIU HCIIMK, in this article from the Forge.