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2018 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

This legislative session is over and it was generally a great success! That’s because of all the hard work caregivers across the state did to make the world better for home care workers, our clients and our families. When we fight together anything is possible.

Read a quick recap of the 2018 legislative session below:

Our Long-Term Care Priorities

Consumer Directed Employer Legislation (SB 6199)

On March 27, Gov. Jay Inslee signed SB 6199, the Consumer Directed Employer Legislation, into law. This was DSHS requested legislation that impacts the way the state manages IPs. Case managers and advocates for seniors and people with disabilities supported the legislation because it allows case managers to get back to doing what they are trained, qualified and paid to do — serving vulnerable clients — instead of troubleshooting fixes for payroll and overtime.

Our executive board voted to support it because the legislation will: streamline and simplify employment and payroll processes for IPs, allow consumers — our clients — to remain in control, ensure IP wages and benefits are protected, provide opportunities for full-time employment, continue career pathways, put IPs in control of their future, and value home care aides.

Next Steps: DSHS will begin a competitive bidding process to identify who the Consumer Directed Employer will be. The State’s decision will include a robust stakeholder-involvement process including Parent Providers, IPs, and advocates for people with disabilities, including self-advocates. It will take over a year to get up-and-running so we will continue to bargain our contract as usual with the State this summer.

Visit our SB 6199 webpage for more information.

Long-Term Care Trust Act (HB 2533 / SB 6238)
SEIU 775 and Washingtonians for a Responsible Future moved the policy of a state-paid long-term care benefit from an ambitious idea to bona-fide legislation! Although the bill was not passed into law this year, we’ve built a lot of support and momentum for next year. The Long-Term Care Trust Act would provide long-term care insurance for people employed in Washington when they need it. There were multiple hearings, lots of press, bi-partisan support, and a commitment from stakeholders and legislators to aggressively try to pass it fully next year. The bill even achieved two budget provisos in support of the legislation — a rare feat for a supplemental budget like this. These two provisos will be used to fully flush out the policy so it is 100 percent ready to pass next session.

Learn more about the bill from Washingtonians for a Responsible Future. You can also read a story from The New York Times about the Long-Term Care Trust Act (subscription required).

Guardianship System Reform (SB 6479)
This year, we began the discussion in Olympia on guardianship reform. When we took an initial look at the guardianship appointment process, it became apparent that the entire system needed to be improved. SEIU 775 has now built and is leading a coalition of consumer groups and regulators who appreciate our leadership and are excited for change. Although the final legislative budget did not include the proviso that would have created a workgroup and a recommendation, the Union and the bill’s main supporter, Christine Kilduff (LD 28), have already come up with an alternative plan and we will move forward with a stakeholder-approved solution for next year.

Let us know if you have a story about how guardianship has affected you and we’ll contact you!

 

Other Important Issues That Passed

  • Increasing the personal needs allowance (HB 2651) – increases the personal needs allowance for individuals with disabilities in home care or institutional care
  • Breakfast After the Bell (1508) – allows students to eat breakfast in the classroom to ensure all students can get a nutritious snack at the beginning of their day
  • Prohibiting housing discrimination based on source of income (HB 2578) – makes it illegal for landlords to deny housing to a tenant based on their source of income, including Social Security, veterans benefits and housing vouchers
  • De-Escalate Washington (I-940) On March 8, the State Legislature passed Initiative 940 into law! Led by De-Escalate Washington and supported by SEIU 775, I-940 focuses on law enforcement training and community safety, and House Bill 3003 strengthens and clarifies some of the language in the initiative. We heard compelling testimony from parent providers and advocates at our convention last year about how people with disabilities – as well as people of color – are disproportionately impacted by police shootings. They made the case that better training and de-escalation tactics can save lives and improve the relationship between police and the communities they serve.
  • Several bills to make it easier for people to register and vote, including moving the registration deadline to Election Day (SB 6021), automatically registering people when dealing with the Department of Licensing or the Health Exchange (HB 2595), and allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote (HB 1513). The legislature also adopted the Washington Voting Rights Act (SB 6002) to correct long-standing inequities in voting practices.
  • Increased protections against workplace harassment and assault, including making it mandatory to protect employees’ rights to file a complaint for sexual harassment or sexual assault in an employee’s contract (SB 6313), encouraging the disclosure of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace (SB 5996), developing policies to create workplaces that are safe from sexual harassment (SB 6471), and protecting victims of sexual assault and domestic violence from employment discrimination (HB 2661).
  • Net Neutrality (HB 2282) – Washington became the first state to pass a law protecting “net neutrality,” preventing internet service providers from slowing down or blocking online content
  • Student Loan Bill of Rights (SB 6029) – creates a student loan advocate for Washington borrowers and provides students with basic guarantees
  • Washington Dream Act 2.0 (HB 1488) – protects undocumented students from losing financial aid eligibility if DACA is eliminated
  • Ban on conversion therapy for LGBTQ youths (SB 5722) – bans abusive conversion therapy and makes it so therapists, psychiatrists, or other healthcare providers could lose their licenses if they try to influence a minor’s sexuality or gender identity

Together we’ve fought hard for these bills, bringing topics to light that impact the ways Washingtonians live. These are huge wins for caregivers, our clients, families and the community in general. Together as a Union, we’re a strong and loud voice that is heard by our legislators.

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SEIU 775 President David Rolf on the future of labor

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In a conversation with Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner, President David Rolf says “the old broken down machinery” of traditional labor unions needs to find new ways workers in the modern economy to find political power.

They also discuss the DSHS proposal to streamline IP employment administration and new Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan.

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TJ Janssen: George Will should walk in my shoes

SEIU 775 member TJ Janssen recently wrote an opinion article for the Wenatchee World. The article is behind a pay wall, but you can read the entire piece below!

 

“George Will Should Walk in My Shoes”
By SEIU 775 caregiver TJ Janssen
 
It seems like more and more media sources these days are falling for cheap headlines and exciting — but inaccurate — stories.

A recent George Will column (“SCOTUS case could enhance public workers’ rights” Wenatchee World, December 23, 2017) is a good example of this. Mr. Will made it sound like my union, SEIU 775, was hurting caregivers and those we care for, and like a group called the Freedom Foundation was some sort of hero to workers.

But if you want to know the truth about something, go to the source. Find out what’s going on firsthand.

When it comes to SEIU 775, I’m a good source: I’ve been there since the very beginning days of the union and I can tell you that the union is the reason we’re able to live a little bit better while taking care of our loved ones.

When my fellow caregivers and I formed the union back in 2002, we were getting paid minimum wage, just a little more than $7 an hour. Now, our wages are at least double that, with healthcare, PTO, professional training, and retirement benefits.

What that means is that caregivers like me can start to afford a decent life for our families. That’s all we want, and that’s why we’ve joined together in a union to just get paid enough to have a safe home and enough to eat.

George Will doesn’t know that because he’s never walked in my shoes. He’s never talked to any of us caregivers to know what being in a union really means.
 
However, I’ve talked to someone from the Freedom Foundation. She came to my home and knocked on my door.
 
At first, I wasn’t going to talk with her at all: I know all I need to know — firsthand — about why I support my union. But I let her talk, and by the end of her visit, I felt sorry for her.
 
How much are they paying you to do this? I asked her. Minimum wage, she told me, hanging her head.
 
What kind of benefits are you getting? No benefits.
 
She added that she got benefits from one of her other two jobs. She had to work three jobs to make ends meet, while working for this group that claims to be helping working people.
 
She told me that her mom was a union member. I said, “And you’re out here doing this? Trying to talk people out of being in their unions?”
 
I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Freedom Foundation stooped so low. When they failed to obtain personal contact info about caregivers through public records requests they resorted to buying stolen information from former union and training fund employees in early 2016. Those employees are now facing felony charges for trafficking in stolen property.
 
But the fact that the Freedom Foundation preyed on this desperate woman and others like her told me everything you need to know — firsthand — about who you should depend on to have your back.
 
TJ Janssen is a caregiver and member of SEIU 775. He lives in Wenatchee. SEIU 775 represents long-term care workers providing quality in-home care, nursing home care and adult day health services in Washington State and Montana.
 

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The Atlantic: Low-Wage Workers Finally Get a Raise

In early January 2018, SEIU 775 member Darryl Johnson was featured in The Atlantic. The piece “Low-Wage Workers Finally Get a Raise” written by Annie Lowrey focused on what a wage increase means.

“It has changed my life, and I have noticed the changes,” said Darryl Johnson, a home health worker based near Seattle, whose hourly rate has gone from $13.50 to nearly $15 over the past 18 months. “I have more food at the end of the month, and I’m not trying to stretch those groceries for a week and a half. I’m feeding myself better, and you need to work to eat and get out there.”
You can read the whole piece here.
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Building a portable benefits system for today’s world.

January 23, 2017

An open letter to leaders in business, labor and government:

Building a portable benefits system for today’s world.

The world of work is changing – driven by technological and economic developments that have reshaped the opportunities and challenges for workers in the twenty-first century. However, the American social safety system, which was designed in the 20th century for a very different economy, has not kept pace with today’s workforce.

At a basic level, everyone should have the ability to protect themselves and their loved ones when they’re injured at work, get sick, or when it’s time to retire.

Leaders across business, labor, and government have publicly recognized the need for action, but a myriad of legal, policy, and political hurdles have – to date – prevented meaningful progress toward a new portable benefits system.

These hurdles will only be overcome when parties are willing to sit down, put aside historical differences, and work together to develop a solution. Furthermore, while we applaud and support efforts at the national level, we believe there is great opportunity to take the first significant steps at the state level. The pursuit of local solutions will expedite the move from the theoretical into the practical, unraveling the thorny issues and beginning to show how a portable benefits system can empower workers and enable technology to meet the growing demand for more flexible, independent forms of work.

For these reasons, we are today coming together in an effort to develop an initial state-level portable benefits system.

The foundations of a portable benefits system.

We believe that such a system should be underpinned by the following principles:

Flexibility​ – continuing to deliver reliable economic opportunities that are available for people when they want it and leaving them in control through establishing a system of individual accounts that follow workers and enable them to readily change the nature, structure and intensity of their work while continuing to have access to social benefits or protections

Proportionality​ – ensuring that any new system accounts for differentiated and diverse connections to work through proportional contributions to be developed and determined through an ongoing independent, expert-driven process that recognizes the need to promote a rising standard of living as well as healthy, profitable businesses

Universality​ – build more resilience in our communities by ensuring that any new scheme is universal in its application and supports the movement, growth and development of people across businesses, industries, sectors and life stages regardless of how they get work while providing businesses with legal certainty over their work arrangements

Innovation​ – promote the development of innovative products and systems that respond to and enhance independent work, establish open platforms to enable all organizations to compete for contributions and create arrangements for social investments from private and public sources

Independence​ – ensure that independence and choice are paramount in the development of any scheme and that organizations act in the best interests of individual members

A shared commitment to action.

We firmly believe that renewing the social contract is both urgent and important.

We acknowledge that developing a first-of-its-kind scheme will involve business impacts, implications for worker and consumer protection, complexity in market design and regulatory framework and the need for prudential standards.

We commit to undertaking a collaborative process that involves all stakeholders and seeks to understand and account for these through data, evidence and an open process.

We call on business, labor and government in Washington state to join us in this effort, and come together to meet this critically important challenge.

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Portrait of a Caregiver

The New York Times takes a peek into SEIU 775 Yakima caregiver Melissa Ringer’s world. The video is in 360 degrees, so use your mouse (or move your phone or tablet around) to look all around the room. Click here to watch the video on their site.

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Seattle Magazine explores SEIU 775’s success when other unions have declined

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From the article:

“What a difference 15 years can make. Since SEIU 775 was chartered in 2002—after a bruising legislative battle that culminated in a ballot measure, Initiative 775, giving home care workers the right to unionize, and for the union to negotiate with the state on its members’ behalf—it’s grown from a scrappy, unconventional union representing 1,600 long-term caregivers to arguably the most influential labor organization in state and local politics with 45,000 members, including home care providers, nursing home employees and adult day health care workers. (The group also represents about 1,000 workers in Montana.) That growth has happened during a time when unions’ memberships and influence have been declining precipitously nationwide; currently, just 7 percent of private sector workers belong to a union. Today, SEIU’s members contribute 3.2 percent of their paychecks to the union, which uses the money to negotiate for a contract on their behalf and lobby for other pro-worker policies.

“In that time, SEIU’s political agenda has also expanded, from an advocate for low-wage, often isolated workers caring for elderly and disabled clients in their homes to a force to be reckoned with on issues ranging from fast-food workers’ wages to Seattle zoning laws.”

To read the entire article, please click here.

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Easing the Burden on Caregivers

Long-term care is a cost that many families don’t know they’ll have to bear until it’s too late. The New York Times takes a look at programs in Hawaii and Washington aimed at helping middle-class families manage that burden.

From the story:

“Washington has been a leader in long-term care for many years. In 2017, it was ranked first in the quality and execution of long-term care in a study commissioned by AARP and several partner organizations. Representative Laurie Jinkins, a Democrat, and Representative Norm Johnson, a Republican, introduced a bill last winter called the Long-Term Care Trust Act, which would provide universal long-term care in the state. Everyone would contribute through a payroll deduction, and everyone would be guaranteed a long-term benefit if needed. The program would provide $100 a day to support caregiving across a range of care situations including at-home care, assisted living and nursing homes. Washingtonians have a strong track record of passing legislation on a similar model, including universal paid family leave in 2017 and universal paid sick leave in 2016. The bill is expected to be reintroduced in early 2018…

“The proposed legislation in Washington is limited to 365 days (consecutive or not) of caregiving support and the Kupuna Caregivers program is starting with a six-month trial period. With those limits, these programs aren’t meant to be lifetime care. But they offer options for families that can’t afford private insurance and don’t want to spend down retirement savings to qualify for Medicaid.”

Click here to read the full story.

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2017 Washington State Endorsements

SEIU 775 caregivers across Washington State came together and are proud to endorse the following candidates for elected office.

Make sure to drop your ballot in a dropbox, or mail it in by November 7.

Dropboxes close promptly at 8 p.m.

 

Legislative Districts

31st Legislative District, State House: Morgan Irwin
31st Legislative District, State Senate: Phil Fortunato
37th Legislative District, State Senate: Rebecca Saldaña
45th Legislative District, State Senate: Manka Dhingra 
48th Legislative District, State Senate: Patty Kuderer
48th Legislative District, State Senate: Vandana Slatter

County Races
King County, County Executive: Dow Constantine
King County, County Council Position 3: Kathy Lambert
King County, County Council Position 5: Dave Upthegrove
King County, County Council Position 7: Pete von Reichbauer
King County, County Council Position 9: Reagan Dunn
Proposition No. 1 Levy Lid Lift for Veterans, Seniors and Vulnerable Populations: Vote Yes

Mayor Races
Federal Way, Mayor: Jim Ferrell
Seattle, Mayor: Jenny Durkan
Tacoma, Mayor: Victoria Woodards

City Council Races
Auburn City Council, Position 6: Larry Brown
Burien City Council, Position 1: Pedro Olguin
Burien City Council, Position 3: Jimmy Matta
Des Moines City Council, Position 7: Chad Harper
Edmonds City Council, Position 3: Adrienne Fraley-Monillas
Federal Way City Council, Position 2: Jesse Johnson
Kent City Council, Position 2: Satwinder Kaur
Kent City Council, Position 4: Tye Whitfield
Renton City Council, Position 6: Ruth Perez
Sammamish City Council, Position 1: Jason Ritchie
Sammamish City Council, Position 5: Rituja Indapure
Seattle City Council, Position 8: Teresa Mosqueda
Seattle City Council, Position 9: M. Lorena González
Shoreline City Council, Position 5: Carolyn Ahlgreen
Spokane City Council, Position 1: Kate Burke
Spokane City Council, Position 2: Breean Beggs
Spokane City Council, Position 3: Candace Mumm
Tacoma City Council, Position 4: Catherine Ushka
Tacoma City Council, Position 5: Chris Beale 
Tukwila City Council Position 5: Zak Idan
Tukwila City Council, Position 7: De’Sean Quinn

Other Races
Kent School Board, Position 2: Maya Vendgadasalam
Port of Seattle, Position 1: Ryan Calkins
Port of Seattle, Position 3: Ahmed Abdi
Port of Seattle, Position 4: Preeti Shridhar
Seattle City Attorney: Pete Holmes

Please stay tuned for updates. SEIU 775 caregivers’ endorsements will be updated throughout the election cycle.

 

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Washington State Home Care Workers Will Earn Living Wages by January 2019!

What happens when we fight together? We win!

The 2017 –2019 IP Home Care Contract – one of the best home care contracts in the nation – has been fully funded by the state legislature – all because of you. 

For the last six months, thousands of members called and emailed, traveled from around the state and clocked hundreds of hours in lobby visits with legislators. The fight to fully fund the Home Care Contract was an uphill battle, but because of our determination and shared will – ALL CAREGIVERS WILL EARN A LIVING WAGE!!

Here’s is a snapshot of what we have won:

    • All caregivers will get raises every 6 months for the next 2 years. All caregivers will see increases of at least 12-15 percent over the next 18 months.
    • By January 2019, all caregivers will make at least $15 an hour 
    • Our contract also rewards experience. By the end of the contract the most experienced caregivers with advanced training will make more than $18 an hour
    • The caregiver retirement benefit will double
    • Paid-Time-Off increases for all caregivers
    • 15 minutes of paid administrative time each pay period—this is a first-in-the-nation achievement for state-paid home care individual providers!
    • No cuts to our health care benefits
    • New accountability for IPOne which includes new timelines for identifying and fixing problems.

Fifteen years ago, caregivers started SEIU 775. Back then, caregivers made $7.18/hour with no benefits – no health care, no retirement, no vacation and sick leave (PTO), and no workers compensation (L&I). Since then, by uniting together, standing strong, and making our voices heard, we have doubled those wages – and even more than doubled them for experienced caregivers.

We are truly stronger together! You can read the full contract here: State of Washington 2017-2019 CBA.

You’ll be hearing from us with contract news updates, so be sure to stay tuned to the SEIU 775 Facebook page!

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