Previously Vice President, Harders Takes on New Role After 14 Years as a Leader and Organizer with the Union
SEATTLE, WA, September 7, 2018 – Caregivers from Washington and Montana have elected Sterling Harders as the new president of SEIU 775, the long-term care workers’ union, by an overwhelming majority. Harders’ election comes after Founding President David Rolf reaches his officer term limits set when he and other members wrote SEIU 775’s Constitution and Bylaws in 2003. Other officers elected with Harders include current Secretary-Treasurer Adam Glickman, newly elected Vice Presidents Andrew Beane and Memo Rivera, and 33 rank-and-file members of SEIU 775. A full list of executive-board members is available at: www.seiu775.org/leadership.
When SEIU 775 was founded, caregivers campaigned to be “invisible no more.” Under Rolf’s leadership, caregivers have gone from making a little more than $7 an hour with no benefits, to having wages that have at least doubled, healthcare, paid time off, sick leave, professional training, and retirement benefits. Once described as “obscure and scrappy,” 775 is regularly described as one of the most powerful political forces in the states of Washington and Montana.
Rolf has been a force for change locally and across the country through 775’s work on the Fight for $15 and through his leadership on the future of work and the future of U.S. labor movements. A longtime supporter of officer term limits, Rolf will continue his efforts to advance the cause of American workers in a number of roles and venues, including as President of Working Washington and the Fair Work Center, member of the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative National Advisory Council, and participant in the Harvard Law School “Clean Slate” project on the future of U.S. labor law. He will also continue to serve as chairman of the SEIU 775 Secure Retirement Trust, and chairman of technology startup Carina (which provides job-matching services for home care aides). Forthcoming efforts yet to be announced include additional university-sponsored projects and a new collaboration with Seattle entrepreneur Nick Hanauer on rebuilding the American middle class.
Harders has been a leader and strategic innovator with the Union for more than 14 years, beginning with her career as an organizer and serving the last seven years as vice president. Harders led the field campaign for Proposition 1 in SeaTac, the successful campaign that helped spark the national Fight for $15 movement. She chaired the Union’s Vision 2022 Committee, which revamped the organization’s mission, vision and goals, and ensured that 775 is always ready to fight for and defend caregivers and low-wage workers – a vital need in our current political environment. She currently chairs the Union’s Health Benefits Trust, which provides health insurance to 20,000 caregivers and is a trustee of the SEIU 775 Training Partnership – Washington’s second-largest educational institution by enrollment – and the SEIU 775 Secure Retirement Trust.
“Caregivers have accomplished so much since we began campaigning for the right to form a caregiver union 16 years ago. It has been an honor to work on their behalf,” said Rolf. “I wholeheartedly support Sterling as the new president of SEIU 775. Thanks to her leadership, thousands of members have joined our Union. With Sterling at the helm, I know the organization we built together will always innovate and fight for worker power.”
Caregivers have come a long way from making minimum wage, but they are nowhere near where they should be. Harders and her team will continue leading the Union on its fight for professional training, affordable healthcare, secure retirement, a living wage, better funding, better staffing, and a better quality of life for those they care for.
“Without David and thousands of passionate caregivers, SEIU 775 wouldn’t be standing here stronger than ever,” said Harders. “David believes in making big, audacious goals. Time and time again, he’s proven that we can meet them. His fire is in the DNA of 775. No one at 775 is satisfied with the status quo, and together we will continue to fight for what caregivers and working people deserve.”
“Throughout his career, David has worked to improve the lives of caregivers, working people, people of color, underpaid people and families,” said Mary Kay Henry, SEIU International President. “Sterling has been deeply involved in the same fight, which will ensure a smooth transition. Together, David and Sterling paved the way for cities, counties and states around the country to raise the minimum wage. When the Fight for $15 and a Union was gaining momentum, they helped lead the campaign at SeaTac that won $15 for the first time.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with David and Sterling for years and I have no doubts that SEIU 775 will continue to fight for the justice of all working people, regardless of race, gender, origin, or religion,” said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, WA-07. “Sterling knows the power and balance of politics and will use that to help guide caregivers for the next three years and hopefully many more.”
In accordance with SEIU 775’s Constitution and Bylaws, the leadership transition will happen on October 1, 2018.
SEIU 775 represents more than 45,000 long-term care workers providing quality in-home care, nursing home care and adult day health services in Washington State and Montana.
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.
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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:
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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.
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.
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.”