Case Study

A fight to improve conditions for home care workers­

We used digital organizing and strategic communications to build power and help get crucial laws passed in Colorado.

CLIENT
Colorado Care Workers United (CCWU)

SERVICES

The Outcome

With Samara's help, our client secured multiple state legislative victories that directly improve life for home care workers in Colorado:

Fight for $15

A $15 minimum hourly wage for work funded by Medicaid replaced wages as low as minimum wage—a major victory.

First statewide guaranteed parental leave

Now, care workers can care for their own families and children, too.

Whistleblower Protections

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against direct care workers who report safety violations.

Direct Care Workforce Stabilization Board established

This Board brings care workers and clients together with the government to set minimum standards for the field, address low wages, make recommendations, and communicate directly with the workforce.

The Client

CCWU is a growing group of home care workers in Colorado fighting for industry-wide improvements for caregivers and their clients.

The Challenge

Home care workers go into people's houses and help them with the basics of daily life, like eating, bathing, and taking medicine. Workers’ own basic needs, however, are often overlooked. Care workers tend to elderly, sick and disabled clients, but often have no sick leave themselves. They help people eat and age in their homes, but face food and housing insecurity. Many can barely pay their rent or feed their families due to low wages, no benefits, and rampant wage theft.

At the same time as we’re responsible for other human beings, we struggle to even provide for ourselves and meet our own basic needs because our work is so under-valued and under-appreciated… With a living wage, I could provide for a family, afford stable housing, meet my medical needs, pay off my student loans, keep a savings account and actually invest in my future.

In Colorado, a group of care workers got together, determined to fix these long-standing problems. They knew they could win power and fight for laws that protected workers—with the right help. To succeed, they needed to, build a brand and amass a solid base of engaged workers across CO. They needed to raise their visibility, organize, and lead people to action. That’s when they called Samara Collective.

CCWU faced some serious barriers. Home healthcare is an industry with high risk and long hours where no one works in the same place. Many work multiple jobs, leaving little free time. No formal network of communication with other care workers existed, so how would CCWU get the word out? To top it off, the Covid-19 pandemic emerged and people were scared. No in-person labor organzing meetings could happen, yet these workers continued to visit people’s homes as frontline staff.

What was possible for a small organization with a big dream? CCWU engaged Samara Collective’s expertise to find out.

What we did

Working in concert with our client, Colorado Care Workers United, Samara led a multi-year digital campaign to find care workers online to build collective power, amplifying the voices and leadership of workers on the ground. In the first year of the campaign, we helped unite over 5,000 care workers. This work centered care worker voices, leadership and needs at every step. The campaign led to the passage of broad, sweeping legislation to improve the lives care workers across the state of Colorado who are predominantly women of color and immigrant women.

Upskilling Staff

  • Deeply listened to CCWU’s leaders and staff  to determine their core needs, strengths and opportunities, then built a unique digital strategy to meet and exceed their ambitions
     
  • Trained CCWU staff on strategic communications best practices and skills so that their team could continue this effective work without our direct support

Social Media

  • Upskilled the client – built the capacity of CCWU staff to use Facebook and Instagram expertly as organizing tools, understand the bridge between social media and website activity, and create engaging content that moves people to action.
     
  • Strengthened CCWU's organic social media so they could begin base building and identify potential organizers, spokespeople, and other engaged workers.
     
  • Tested a range of approaches with content creation and data collection with the goal of amassing a large group of care workers ready to advocate for better working conditions and wages.

Legislative

  • Helped create a Care Worker Bill of Rights to demand fair treatment, uplift the worth of the labor and inspire people to work for change

  • Paid ads moved care workers to sign the Care Worker Bill of Rights, then prompted them to complete the Care Worker Survey.

Ads

  • Gained the attention of workers online through compelling, tested ads showcasing photo quotes from care workers throughout the state.
     
  • Created a digital Care Worker Survey in order to assess their top concerns, collect data and provide a way for peopleto share their stories.
     
  • Built CCWU's lists by using new digital matchmaking techniques: creating online look-alike audiences to find care workers in Colorado and target ads directly to them.
     

List Building

  • A completed Care Worker Survey triggered a digital engagement email campaign, inviting the worker to join the movement to strengthen worker rights in Colorado and connecting them with frontline organizers.

Additional Outcomes

The legislative wins are monumental. Just as importantly, we helped shift the narrative.

By collecting testimonies about the value and challenges of care work, in the voices of care workers, we helped CCWU change its meaning in the public mind. The cultural narrative about care workers has begun to change—from low-paid labor to richly skilled, dedicated essential workers who deserve to be compensated fairly.

Care workers themselves came to recognize the profound importance of their role through telling their stories, and building their own leadership and power, supported by CCWU and Samara.

A win for care workers is a win for everyone. All of us will face illness in life, many of us will have a disability, and most will find as we age that we need extra help. The need for care workers cuts across every facet of society and is only growing.

With the improved pay, training and working conditions they deserve, home care workers can better serve their clients and strengthen their industry. Care workers deserve to be able to take care of themselves, while they take care of others.

Samara was honored to guide the digital organizing strategies and creative tactics that helped CCWU.

We'd love to work with you, too!