NEW HAVEN – Anthony Ligon and Terrell Williams, both New Haven residents, provide convenience and care for other than home caregivers. But they don’t have their own health insurance.
She and her colleagues from SEIU District 1199, a chapter of the New England Health Care Employees Union, urged lawmakers to give them that level of support and stability at the Hartford State Capitol on Thursday, and held a protest following the arrest out of 20 people ended up, according to state police.
Ligon and Williams said Friday they attended the rally in hopes of getting benefits like health insurance, sick leave, vacation time and other benefits.
The union has called on lawmakers to pass legislation that will raise the minimum wage for such workers to $ 20 an hour by 2023, paving the way for affordable health care.
“We are long-term home care (workers) with no long-term benefits,” Ligon said. “We were pretty much there to fight for some basic human rights.”
“It’s a basic need that pretty much all workers need and want,” said Williams. “It was basically ignored.”
Thursday’s protest was peaceful, according to Ligon, Williams and state police, although initial scanner reports indicated that bleach or some other substance had been thrown at officials.
In a release, state police announced that shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday, soldiers entered the Office of Policy & Management building at 450 Capitol Ave. were sent to assist the Hartford Police in the protest.
According to state police, about 20 people entered the building and were arrested after refusing to disperse. They have been charged with first-degree crimes and released on $ 1,000 bail, police said.
“It should be noted that this demonstration was peaceful and there were no reports of injuries to those arrested or to the soldiers involved. Connecticut State Police did not use force, ”police said. “The Connecticut State Police support peaceful protests and will work to protect the safety of all concerned.”
Williams said the protest escalated somewhat when protesters entered the building; Guards pushed some of them down, he said. He said he already felt disrespected at work and that the interaction made him and his colleagues more determined.
Ligon was one of those arrested. He said he wouldn’t change what happened.
Williams and Ligon said the work they do creates a special sense of pride. Instead of just working for a paycheck, they said it allowed them to change someone’s life.
Williams said he started caring for his mother after she got sick. After her death, he decided to continue.
“I’m actually (one on one) with another person,” Williams said. “For me, that’s a much better reason to get up in the morning and go to work.”
But it has put him in a precarious position, he said – by taking care of three customers he can easily pay his bills. But he’s doing too much to qualify for government subsidized insurance, and getting insurance is beyond his ability.
Ligon said the work enables those in need of care to stay at home, connect with family, and live more full lives.
“I’m proud of it,” said Ligon.