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.”
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.”
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.