Caregivers Travel to DC to Defend the ACA
Contact Nina (dot) Jenkins (at) seiu775 (dot) org
In 2002, I became the founding president of SEIU 775, the union for home care and nursing home workers in Washington State and Montana. Having started organizing right out of college in 1992, it had been an incredible privilege to lead two historic union organizing victories early in my career — the campaign to win union recognition for 74,000 Los Angeles home care aides in 1999, and 25,000 Washington home care aides in 2002. But thenbecoming an elected labor leader in a major union at the age of 33 was the honor and awesome responsibility of a lifetime.
At the end of this month, I’ll be turning over the leadership of SEIU 775 to my successor. Not because I’m retiring from the workforce (I’m 48, healthy, and certainly not wealthy) and not because our members are seeking different leadership. I’m leaving because, back in its infancy, our union had the foresight and courage to adopt term limits for its top elected leaders. And so for me, leaving the best job any organizer or activist could ever have will be an act of conscience, of joy, and of personal and organizational renewal. I couldn’t be happier, or more proud.
Thanks to all your efforts, IP caregivers in Washington have a tentative agreement on our 2019-2021 contract with the State of Washington! (Ballots are coming out soon.) Even after we approve a contract, it’s not a done deal: Next spring, we’ll need everyone’s help to make sure the Legislature approves funding.
We did it!
Significant raises for all home care workers. A top wage of over $20 an hour. Increased retirement. Continued affordable healthcare.
These are some of the things we won in our next contract – thanks to the work we all did together: All our calls. All our emails. All of us who got in front of a phone camera to make a video to tell the governor how hard we work and how much we need pay raises and good health and retirement benefits.
Every single thing we did made a difference.
We raised our voices together again until we were too loud to be ignored — and now we’ve won a contract we can be proud of!
Here’s what’s in the tentative agreement:
This contract covers Individual Providers, but it’s also going to change the lives of Agency Providers, who bargain their contracts based on the improvements that IP caregivers make.
Soon, Individual Providers will get ballots in the mail to vote on ratifying this contract. We unanimously recommend voting YES!
Then, this winter and spring, we’re going to need all hands on deck again to make sure the Washington Legislature approves the funding for the contract.
For now, though, take a minute to pat yourselves and each other on the back for all our hard work in helping make these contract negotiations a big success.
Thank you so much for everything you did to make this happen. Caregivers were counting on you – and, just like always, you came through.
To log in, use your Member ID as your username. Your password is your Member ID number backward. If you don’t know your Member ID, call our Member Resource Center at 1-866-371-3200.
To be eligible for these insurance programs, you must be a member in good standing.
Read our Open Enrollment Facts for more information.
Family Dental Insurance
Dentistry is not expensive, neglect is
Dental insurance can help you maximize your oral health while minimizing out-of-pocket costs for routine dental checkups, expensive procedures and most everything in between.
These Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans available for you and any dependents you wish to cover, offer members flexibility to visit any licensed dentist so you’re sure to find a provider who’s conveniently located and meets all your needs. Some highlights of this coverage include:
Supplemental Life Insurance
Financial Security for Your Loved Ones
A death in the family is not only emotionally devastating, it can also take a tremendous toll on the future financial security of a family. Suddenly, without the deceased’s income, paying the mortgage or providing for a child’s future may become much more difficult.
Those who buy life insurance do so to help ensure their loved ones are taken care of financially.
In the event of your passing or the passing of a covered dependent, life insurance provides money directly to the individuals you select, your beneficiaries, who can use the money as they see fit, including:
If you purchase supplemental life insurance for yourself, you can also purchase coverage on your spouse, civil union partner or domestic partner, and eligible children.
Family Vision Insurance
Look Toward the Future With Better Vision
Help protect the eyesight and health of every member of your family, with lower out-of-pocket expenses for you.
Family Accident/Critical Illness Insurance
Protect Your Family and Put Cash In Your Pocket
Accidents and Critical illnesses can happen when you least expect them – and they can be costly. Even quality medical plans can leave you with extra expenses to pay. Costs like plan deductibles, copays for doctor visits and extra costs for out-of-network care can add up fast. Having the financial support you may need when the time comes means less worry for you and your family.
While most medical plans provide coverage for hospital and medical expenses, they don’t typically cover costs like daily living expenses, childcare, or copays. The Benefits Enhancer Bundle can help close the gap.
The insurance program pays you a lump sum of money to use at your discretion should you or your dependent have a serious accident or face dealing with a critical illness such as:
Open Enrollment Facts
Open Enrollment is a part of Membership Plus, which helps make your paychecks go further on things you’d be spending money on anyways and little extras just for you. View the Membership Plus website for a complete list of your benefits and discounts.
These insurance programs are separate from SEIU 775 Benefits Group’s healthcare insurances, which held their open enrollment July 1-20.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.