The Fight For Fair Pay

The Fight For Fair Pay

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Tina Lawton is a direct support professional at Jefferson Rehabilitation Center.

"I do not have an outside life. I don't," she said.

Lawton faces the same struggle many people who make a career helping the disabled do - long hours and little pay.

The BFair2DirectCare campaign is asking Governor Cuomo to change that by putting $45 million in the state budget to get direct support professionals, or DSPs, a raise.

"Right now they make less than someone starting out in retail or in some cases in the fast food restaurants, and they have a lot more responsibility," said Howie Ganter, JRC executive director. 

"We are doing everything for some people. Help them eat, we sometimes have to change a lot of the people. It can get very personal," said Lawton.

JRC and other organizations like the Disabled Persons Action Organization are championing BFair2DirectCare.

Right now DSPs start at minimum wage and raises don't come quickly.

Even after 11 years, Lawton's pay has only gone up a couple of dollars.

"I still have to work at a residential house after working day hab hours just to pay my bills. It is very rewarding, but it doesn't pay mortgage payments or anything," she said.

That $45 million would steadily increase the starting pay of DSPs to $16 an hour over the next 6 years.

DPAO officials are asking people who support BFair2DirectCare to write letters to local legislators asking them to support better pay for DSP workers. 

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