Caregivers Travel to DC to Defend the ACA
Contact Nina (dot) Jenkins (at) seiu775 (dot) org
Home care aides are not taking a proposed $28.1 million cut to their healthcare benefits lying down.
Since April, caregivers have been organizing around the state to raise awareness about the life-altering budget cuts proposed by Senate Republicans. Demonstrators have called on their state senators to work across the aisle to find a way to support long-term-care service providers in Washington state.
State of Play for Home Care Aide Healthcare Benefits
State Republican Senators are attempting to fund tax breaks for the wealthy by defunding health insurance for caregivers. Under their budget, the Health Benefits Trust – the home care aide healthcare group – would suffer $28.1 million reduction in funding. To accommodate the loss in funding, the Benefits Group would have to change eligibility requirements and require a 500 percent increase in premiums, which could put the cost of healthcare out of reach for most caregivers.
There are thousands of caregivers all over the state who could see a rise in healthcare costs if the Legislature moves forward in gutting their healthcare.
Standing Stronger Together
For demonstrators like Cindy Thao and Bunrod Harvey, two local caregivers living Snohomish and King counties, Senate Republicans’ commitment to defunding their healthcare benefits prompted them to reach out to the public for support.
“Healthcare is not just a budget line item for tens of thousands of home care aides,” said Adam Glickman, Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU 775. “Healthcare is a well-deserved safety-net when caregivers need care. This will impact thousands of caregivers. Even parents who sacrificed full-time careers could be forced off their healthcare if this budget cut goes through. If they become sick, who will care for their adult child?”
In addition to local demonstrations, home care aides have been calling and emailing their state senators urging them to vote against these massive cuts to caregiver health benefits. To date, SEIU 775 members made 5,300+ calls and sent 10,000+ emails into the Legislature.
The decision to save funding for the home care aide health-insurance program will be decided upon this fiscal year. Budget negotiations between the House and Senate have reached a stalemate after Gov. Inslee extended the regular legislative session through May 24.
To stand with caregivers, take action today by calling the legislative hotline at (844) 669-0064. Leave a message for your Senator telling them to stand with home care workers.
275 residential caregivers at ResCare Washington, Inc. voted overwhelmingly to unite with SEIU 775 as its newest members.
They join 953 home care workers from the private home care agency First Choice, who joined SEIU 775 in July.
These significant wins end a year of historic victories for SEIU 775. During the 2015 legislative session, caregivers won legislation setting minimum levels of staffing for nursing homes, set at 3.4 direct care hours per resident day effective July 1, 2016, which gives Washington one of the strongest minimum staffing levels in the country.
Home care workers also celebrated a new two-year contract that awards them the first-ever retirement benefit for home care workers in the nation. Under this new contract funded by the legislature this year, caregivers will also see their average hourly wage go up from about $12 an hour to more than $14 an hour by January 2017.
SEIU 775 is 44,000 long-term care workers in Washington and Montana.
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If you would like more information, please contact Chris Casquejo at 206-538-5721 or email at Chris.Casquejo@seiu775.org.
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.
June 30, 2015
Olympia – Nursing home workers across the state are excited about the prospect for improved quality of care, as the Governor prepares to sign today groundbreaking legislation establishing for the first time minimum staffing levels for nursing homes in Washington State.
“I’ve seen it all: residents falling and hitting themselves on the head, residents who go for weeks without a shower because there’s no one available to give them one, even a resident who got outside and fell on the sidewalk, suffering a traumatic brain injury. If our building had been fully staffed, he wouldn’t have died that way,” said Bellingham nursing home aide and SEIU 775 board member Shelly Hughes. “Setting minimum staffing levels will improve the lives of some of Washington’s most vulnerable residents”
Championed by Representatives Eileen Cody and Senator Linda Parlette and passed almost unanimously in both chambers, HB 1274 creates a framework to simplify the nursing home rate payment system and move towards a system that rewards quality care. The legislation also mandates minimum level of staffing for nursing homes, set at 3.4 direct care hours per resident day effective July 1, 2016, which gives Washington one of the strongest minimum staffing levels in the country.
According to a national scorecard by AARP, turnover for Certified Nursing Assistants in nursing homes in Washington State is 52 percent, putting Washington near the bottom of the nation in turnover among nursing aides. One of the most cited reasons caregivers leave the field is inadequate staffing levels.
“Legislators really stepped up to address quality care in our state’s nursing homes ,”said SEIU 775 Secretary-Treasurer Adam Glickman. “it was encouraging to see such strong bi-partisan support for ensuring that nursing homes have enough staffing to keep residents safe and ensure quality care for our most vulnerable.”
SEIU 775 represents caregivers at 30 nursing homes across Washington State.
Home care workers across the state applaud House Democrats for continuing to support fully funding the home care union contract with a retirement benefit. Unlike the Senate, the House proposal does not make a modest retirement benefit contingent on restricting bargaining rights and ensuring that caregivers can never have an adequate retirement.
House Democrats are also doing the right thing for working families by standing up for a capital gains tax, an important step towards ensuring that the wealthy pay their fair share to support public services and improving the most regressive tax system in our country.
We urge the House to restore funding for private home care agencies to ensure that they can continue to provide quality care for vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities in our community.
We remain deeply disappointed by the Senate Republican’s ongoing efforts to restrict the bargaining rights of home care workers and undermine their ability to have a secure retirement. The Senate Republican budget proposal puts unreasonable restrictions on the ability of caregivers to bargain for retirement benefits and would consign caregivers to continue to work until they need long-term care themselves.
Home care workers, who make an average of $12/hour, bargained for a modest defined contribution retirement benefit this year. For an average caregiver this benefit would contribute about $300/year into their retirement account – well below what is needed to build a secure retirement. Senate Bill 6126 would severely restrict the ability of low-wage caregivers to bargain for an increase in their retirement benefits in the future and prevent them from ever having the ability to retire.
SEIU 775 represents 43,000 long-term care workers across Washington State including home care aides, nursing home workers, and adult day health workers.
Farrell, Jinkins, Jayapal, and Habib invite colleagues to make history with paid sick days and a $12 minimum wage
The movement to raise up our economy and turn back income inequality moves to the top of the agenda at the State Capitol on Thursday, when key legislators host a sign-on event to invite colleagues to co-sponsor their bills to raise the minimum wage and establish a minimum standard for paid sick days.
Few issues before the Legislature can match the overwhelming level of broad-based public support across the state for this pair of bills to raise up workers, communities, and our whole economy. Approximately two-thirds of voters support a statewide $12 minimum wage, and paid sick days garner an even stronger majority. At the same time, greedy corporations are lining up to maintain the status quo.
Who: Prime sponsors of minimum wage and sick leave bills, joined by co-sponsors, low-wage workers, community business owners, and other supporters.
What: Legislators will ask colleagues to join as co-sponsors of bills to raise the state minimum wage to $12/hour and establish a minimum standard for paid sick days. Legislators, poverty-wage workers, community business owners, and others will speak in support of legislative action to make history by raising up workers, communities, and our economy.
Home care workers will also be holding an event at 12:30 pm in the sundial area with large posters showing their personal budgets to raise awareness about the impact of low-wages on home care workers and vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities who they support.
When: Thursday, January 15, 2014, 12:00 pm
Where: House Hearing Room B
Our state minimum wage of $9.47/hour is not nearly enough to afford the basics and contribute to the economy. It takes a full-time job paying $12.48/hour to afford even a studio apartment in our state. And one million workers in Washington don’t have any paid sick days — which means they’re far more likely to come to work when they’re sick.
Working people want to support themselves and keep their families healthy — but that can be impossible when you’re paid poverty wages and don’t get paid sick days. While the large corporations that employ two-thirds of low-wage workers are highly profitable, the rest of us are left to fill the gap with food stamps, health care and other assistance.
Adam Glickman: adam (dot) glickman (at) seiu775 (dot) org
SEATTLE (Sept. 5, 2014) – As hundreds of SEIU 775 caregivers gather for their annual convention here this weekend, the workers are celebrating a tentative agreement with the state that will raise the average wage for a home care worker to more than $14/hour.
The contract, reached Thursday with state labor officials, covers more than 33,000 individual providers of long-term supports and services to older adults and people with disabilities. This was the first time since 2004 that an agreement was reached at the bargaining table without going to binding arbitration.
“This contract represents a victory for the state’s most vulnerable people, the citizens we provide care for,” said Sylvia Liang, a SEIU 775 member, the union representing long-term care workers. “We’re pleased that the state recognizes the importance of providing quality long-term care and treating workers with dignity and respect.”
The contract still is subject to union ratification and funding must be approved by the Legislature. There is not an official cost yet, but union officials estimated it would cost less than $60 million in state funds annually – significantly less than the cost of the last arbitration award.
“The state this year recognized that caregivers should not be required to take a vow of poverty to do their jobs,” said Adam Glickman, SEIU 775 Secretary Treasurer. “Workers also recognize the state’s precarious fiscal situation, and while we had hoped to reach $15 for caregivers, we understand that workers now are on a pathway to reach that iconic goal.”
The contract also includes a modest initial defined-contribution retirement benefit and an increase in paid time off or PTO. Thousands of caregivers who work for agencies such as ResCare or Catholic Community Services also will benefit. The collective bargaining agreement leads to increased funding for private agencies to provide similar increases to their caregivers.
Still, the fight for caregivers is far from over. State mandated reductions in hours to vulnerable adults have made it difficult for many caregivers to pay the bills. While caregivers and the state’s most vulnerable populations continue to suffer, giant corporations enjoy massive tax breaks.
Hundreds of caregivers plan to rally Friday in downtown Seattle outside Microsoft’s corporate offices. Microsoft receives about $20 million in tax breaks, according to state records. Despite a pledge to create local jobs, instead Microsoft this year announced plans to slash more than 32,000 corporate and contract positions in Washington.
“It’s not right that caregivers are forced to live in poverty, while Microsoft gets away without having to pay their fair share,” Liang said.
Caregivers are calling on state lawmakers to close corporate tax loopholes and generate revenue for the state’s most vulnerable.
SEIU 775 represents 44,000 long-term care workers in Washington and Montana. Founded in 2002, SEIU 775 members fight to deliver quality care to vulnerable older adults and people with disabilities.
Olympia, Wash. – Washington state home care workers today stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Illinois following today’s opinion issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn.
“We have fought for more than a decade to create a long-term care system that provides dignity and quality care to both seniors and people with disabilities, plus workers like me,” said Sylvia Liang, a home care worker from Seattle, and a member of SEIU 775. “We are fired up and ready to work with Washington state officials to ensure that our successful home care program will be protected from this extremist attack.”
Harris v. Quinn was brought by the National Right to Work Foundation, an extremist group, and is the latest in a decades-long attack on the rights of working people to join together to improve their jobs and the quality of services they provide.
It’s unclear how the Court’s ruling will impact home care clients and workers in Washington, if at all. The Illinois Medicaid home care personal assistant program is very different from the Washington Individual Provider program. Washington state has a more robust collective bargaining model through which workers have won a number of benefits.
In Washington, SEIU 775 represents more than 40,000 caregivers. This growing workforce is vital to providing quality care for seniors. One in five Washington residents will be 65 or older by 2030, according to statistical trends.
Read David Rolf’s article from “Spotlight” called “If You Care about Economic Growth, Feed a Fast Food Worker” – Originally posted June 17, 2014 Low-wage workers in cities across the country are standing up to demand fair wages and decent working conditions. Fast food workers, airline baggage handlers, taxi cab drivers, berry pickers, and retail employees are all part of a burgeoning, national low-wage worker movement that is important to us all. Their actions force us to recognize a chilling fact: America is becoming a low…