June 30, 2015
Budget Approves Funding For Home Care Union Contract
Olympia – More than 40,000 home care workers will see significant raises over the next two years and a first-ever retirement benefit under their new union contract. The legislature yesterday passed budgets approving funding for the new contract, which will raise the average wage of home care workers from just over $12/hour to more than $14/hour over the biennium.
“This is another huge step towards lifting caregivers out of poverty,” said Vancouver home care worker Linda Lee. “Twelve years ago caregivers made just over minimum wage, about $7/hour, but by the end of next year most caregivers will be making more than $14/hour. That’s doubling our wages in just over a decade – that would never have been possible without gaining a strong voice through our union.”
The contract also provides for a first-ever retirement benefit for state-paid home care workers. The state will pay 23-cents/hour into a privately managed retirement fund for these caregivers.
“Winning a retirement benefit is a game changer for caregivers and the long-term care workforce,” said SEIU 775 Secretary-Treasurer Adam Glickman, who led negotiations with the state on the contract.. “This will help stabilize and increase the workforce as we prepare for a huge increase in the senior population over the next few decades.”
The contract directly covers 33,000 home care workers who are paid directly by the state to serve low-income seniors and people with disabilities, and the budget also includes funding to provide similar increases in pay and benefits to another 12,000 home care workers employed by private agencies that serve Medicaid clients.