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ERIC Number: ED503912
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Feb
Pages: 18
Abstractor: ERIC
The Direct Support Workforce Crisis: Can Unions Help Resolve This?
Taylor, Steven J.
Center on Human Policy
Problems faced by the developmental disability service system in recruiting and retaining direct support staff are exacerbated by demands from competing service industries, including long term supports for the increasing aging population in the United States. Many factors account for high turnover and vacancy rates in the community service system, including conditions of employment, service model characteristics, employment context, and others. Studies have consistently attributed high turnover and vacancy rates, and especially the discrepancy between rates in community settings as opposed to institutions, to low wages and benefits. One proposal to address the direct support workforce crisis is the unionization of direct support workers in the private sector; however, the unionization of direct support workers in the private sector is deeply controversial among people in the field of developmental disabilities. This report provides a discussion of the workforce crisis and presents arguments both for and against unionization, concluding that if direct support workers in the community continue to receive low wages and poor benefits, people with disabilities, family members, and advocates may not have a say in the matter of whether direct support workers become unionized. The author advocates that it would be better to engage in constructive dialogue with forward-looking unions or even a single union than to let events unfold on their own. (Contains 1 figure.)
Center on Human Policy. Syracuse University, Division of Special Education and Rehabilitation, 805 South Crouse Avenue, Syracuse, NY 13244-2280. Tel: 800-894-0826; Tel: 315-443-3851; Fax: 315-443-4338; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (ED)
Authoring Institution: Syracuse Univ., NY. Center on Human Policy.