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Obama Promotes Importance Of Home Health Workers

Armen Hareyan's picture

Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Wednesday participated in the Service Employees International Union's "Walk a Day in My Shoes" program, spending two hours cleaning, folding laundry and preparing breakfast with a home health care worker, the Chicago Tribunereports. Participating in the program "has become a new ritual for theDemocratic candidates" because the 1.9 million-member union has decidedto make it a prerequisite for endorsement consideration, according tothe Tribune (Dorning, Chicago Tribune, 8/9). The day-in-the-life campaign attempts to focus attention on the problems and needs of working U.S. residents, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/8).

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Aftermopping kitchen and bathroom floors in the home of 86-year-old JohnThornton in East Oakland, Calif., with health care worker Pauline Beck,Obama told reporters, "I'm not going to lie to you. It's been awhile" (Chicago Tribune,8/9). Obama used the experience, which was attended by a televisioncrew and photographers, to highlight the importance of home health careworkers and promote benefits including paid sick leave and vacation forservice workers -- neither of which Beck receives, according to the AP/Houston Chronicle (AP/Houston Chronicle, 8/9).

Other Democratic presidential candidates who have participated in the program are Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.), Gov. Bill Richardson (N.M.) and former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.). Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton(D-N.Y.) and Joe Biden (D-Del.) and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) are scheduled to participate in the program by the end of the summer (Richman, San Jose Mercury News, 8/9).

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