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1200 Caregivers Vote to Join SEIU 775

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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.

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Washington State Supreme Court upholds SeaTac’s $15/hour minimum wage measure

Statement by SEIU 775 President David Rolf on the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision today to uphold the $15/hour minimum wage measure passed by SeaTac voters in November 2013:

“With today’s Supreme Court ruling, thousands of low-wage airport workers will finally be lifted out of poverty thanks to the implementation of a $15 minimum wage. We hope this sends a strong message to the Port of Seattle, which too often acts as an agent for its wealthy Port businesses like Alaska, and not in the interests of workers and the taxpayers who support it.”

For more information, contact:
Adam Glickman, 206-295-9613

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Massachusetts home care workers win $15 starting wage

BOSTON, MA – Tears of joy streaked the faces of cheering home care workers assembled in their Dorchester union hall on Thursday afternoon as a decades-long struggle for recognition and a living wage culminated in a historic moment of celebration.

According to an agreement reached in contract negotiations between the 35,000 home care workers of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the administration of recently elected Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R), Massachusetts Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) are poised to become the first in the nation to achieve a statewide $15 per hour starting wage.

Upon reaching the agreement, workers called off the fifteen-hour picket they had planned to begin at the Massachusetts State House on the morning of Tuesday, June 30th. Instead, caregivers are planning a celebration of this milestone and nation-leading achievement of a $15 standard at 4:00 p.m. on the State House steps the afternoon of June 30th.

“This victory, winning $15 per hour, it means we are no longer invisible,” said Kindalay Cummings-Akers, a PCA from Springfield, MA. Cummings-Akers cares for a local senior and became a union activist at the onset of the campaign. She was also a member of the statewide PCA negotiating team that reached the agreement with the Baker administration. “This is a huge step forward not just for home care workers, but also toward ensuring the safety, dignity, and independence of seniors and people with disabilities,” she added. “We are a movement of home care workers united by the idea that dignity for caregivers and the people in our care is possible. Today, we showed the world that it is possible.”

“Massachusetts home care workers are helping to lead the Fight for $15 – and winning,” said 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Veronica Turner. “We applaud Governor Baker for helping to forge this pathway to dignity for PCAs and the tens of thousands of Massachusetts seniors and people with disabilities who rely on quality home care services to remain in the community or in the workforce. As the senior population grows, the demand for home care services is increasing. By helping to ensure a living wage for these vital caregivers, Governor Baker is taking a critical step with us toward reducing workforce turnover and ensuring that Massachusetts families can access the quality home care they need for their loved ones.”

“It is a moral imperative that all homecare and healthcare workers receive $15 per hour, and Massachusetts is now a leader in this effort,” said 1199SEIU President George Gresham. “Extreme income inequality is a threat to our economy, our bedrock American values and our very democracy. With a living wage, we can ensure more compassionate care for homecare clients, and better lives for homecare workers and their families. We applaud this bold step by Governor Baker towards a better future for our communities in Massachusetts and our country overall.”

The home care workers’ journey began in 2006 when they banded together with senior and disability advocates to pass legislation giving Personal Care Attendants the right to form a union – a right they previously had been denied because of an obscure technicality in state law.

After passing the Quality Home Care Workforce Act to win that right and introduce other improvements to the home care delivery system in 2007, the PCAs voted to join 1199SEIU in 2008 through the largest union election in the history of New England. 1199SEIU is the fastest-growing and most politically active union in Massachusetts.

Prior to the legislative and organizing campaigns, PCA wages had stagnated for years at $10.84 per hour. In a series of three contracts since forming their union and through several major mobilizations, rallies, and public campaigns, the PCAs achieved a wage of $13.38 on July 1st, 2014.

Last year, the Massachusetts home care workers also united with the burgeoning Fight for $15 movement and the local #WageAction coalition, helping to kick off the $15 wage effort in the Bay State with rallies in Boston, Springfield, and Worcester on June 12th, 2014.

Home care workers took to the streets again on April 14th, 2015 as part of a massive Fight for $15 mobilization that drew thousands to the streets of Boston. That Boston-based action served as the kickoff for similar coordinated protests in more than 200 cities and 50 countries across the globe.

Caregivers say they are excited that the picket action they had planned for their current contract expiration date of June 30th can now serve as a celebration of this achievement and the spirit of cooperation that made it possible.

“This is an inspiring moment for home care workers, but also for our children – and our children’s children,” said a beaming Rosario Cabrera, a home care worker from New Bedford, MA whose children Kendra, age 14, and Daniel, age 12, were with her at the negotiating session as workers cheered the new agreement with the Baker administration. “I am so proud that I can show my children and someday tell my grandchildren that I was part of this moment in history, that I was part of a movement for social justice. We want all home care workers to win $15 per hour – and to do it first in Massachusetts fills us with pride. It is evidence of what people can do when we organize and negotiate in good faith to reach common ground.”

“Not only is this going to help the PCAs, but this is going to help us as consumers because it’s going to be easier to hire an attendant now that they can receive a dignified living wage,” said Olivia Richard, age 31, a paraplegic consumer who lives in Brighton, MA. “In the past, consumer employers have had issues with getting PCAs simply because the wage wasn’t enough. This is going to make a huge difference in our lives, as well.”

In negotiations, workers and the Baker administration reached an agreement extending the current collective bargaining agreement and establishing a commitment that all PCAs statewide will receive a starting rate of at least $15 per hour by July 1, 2018. Workers will receive an immediate .30 cent raise effective July 1, 2015, a portion of which will be paid retroactively once the contract is ratified.

A new round of discussions will then begin no later than January 1, 2016 to solidify details on the series of wage increases that will elevate PCAs to the $15 mark by the agreed upon date of July 1, 2018. Meanwhile, PCAs across the state will vote by mail ballot on ratifying the contract extension and the terms therein, including the commitment to establish a statewide minimum $15 starting rate.

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Caregivers Applaud House Budget

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.

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$70 Million in back pay awarded to home care workers

SEIU 775 caregivers never give up. They’ve been in Olympia advocating for long-term care this legislative session.

April 2, 2015 – Governor Inslee and the state Legislature have approved a supplemental budget that includes $70 million in funding for back pay for home care workers whose hours were cut due to the “Shared Living” rule between 2003 and 2007. This is a huge victory in a 10-year battle to win back these hours.

Starting in 2003, tens of thousands of home care workers had wages illegally taken from them when DSHS automatically cut their clients’ hours if they shared a residence with the caregiver.

Since DSHS first imposed the shared living rule, SEIU 775 fought to win back what rightfully belongs to home care workers and clients—first at DSHS headquarters and their offices in our communities, then at the bargaining table, and years of legal battles in court.

Now over the next few months current and former caregivers whose hours were cut because of this rule will receive $70 million in back pay.

Over the next few months, a claims administrator named Gilardi & Co. will be sending checks to caregivers whose hours were cut. Workers will not have to apply for their back pay. Gilardi will send out checks based on the state’s records of who got cut because of this rule.

Caregivers who believe they may be entitled to money and want to update their address so that their check goes to the correct location can update their information at:

http://www.rekhter-dshs-classaction.com/

Caregivers should call the Member Resource Center toll-free at 1-866-371-3200 if they receive a check and believe it is the wrong amount.

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State legislators, low-wage workers, and advocates host sign-on event for landmark minimum wage and sick leave bills

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.

More information

  • Washington State’s job growth has led the nation since voters passed our landmark 1998 minimum wage law.
  • A year after higher wages, sick leave protections, and other workplace standards took effect at large SeaTac hotels and parking lots, more than 1,000 workers have a living wage, and no negative impacts have been detected. In fact, Cedarbrook Lodge is in the midst of a $16 million expansion, and local parking lots are boasting of their best year ever.
  • Business lobby groups have been telling the same scare stories for more than 100 years of debates on raising wages and raising standards. But their stories never come true, because our economy doesn’t grow from the top down — it grows from the middle out.

Contact:
Adam Glickman: adam (dot) glickman (at) seiu775 (dot) org

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SEIU 775 members applaud Inslee budget

SEIU 775 Secretary Treasurer Adam Glickman made the following statement in response to Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget proposal released earlier Thursday:

“SEIU 775’s 43,000 members applaud Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget proposal. We are pleased that the governor has introduced a sustainable budget that protects essential human services and invests in education by making the wealthy and polluters pay their fair share through charging carbon polluters and a capitol gains tax that will only affect the wealthiest 1% of taxpayers.

Gov. Inslee’s budget includes funding to help continue to lift caregivers out of poverty through the home care aide contract, and to study ways to help families prepare for long-term supports and services needs. Both of these important budget items will help families around Washington, especially as the aging population in our state begins to grow significantly over the next two decades.

We are, however, concerned about reductions in services and funding to individuals with developmental disabilities.

Caregivers plan to be a nearly constant purple presence in Olympia throughout the 2015 Legislative session, encouraging lawmakers to pass a budget that supports workers and vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities.”

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The Fight for $15 is for All of Us

IMG_8038-DRSEATTLE – SEIU 775 President David Rolf addressed a cheering, overflow crowd of caregivers from across Washington and Montana Friday morning at the 12th annual Convention and Leadership Conference in Seattle.

“This is an incredible room full of love and optimism,” Rolf said.

More than 750 caregivers gathered to celebrate victories, debrief the past year and plot a course for a stronger union and more prosperous future.

Rolf, who this week was named to Politico’s top 50, talked about the state of the nation’s economy and the path for caregivers to make changes that will benefit working people.

He recounted the history of SEIU 775 in Washington which has won advances for homecare workers and their clients for more than a decade.

“At a time when wages were going down, caregivers’ wages went up dramatically,” Rolf said.

He also celebrated the newest contract which members agreed to with state officials on Thursday. If ratified by the union and funded by the state Legislature, the newest contract will be the best in the nation for caregivers.

The only way such a strong contract could be achieved was by workers coming together to build a strong and powerful union, Rolf said.

“We built the power to make the state government say, ‘Yes,’ when they wanted to say, ‘No,’” he said.

But the union didn’t stop at achieving gains for caregivers alone. In the past year, SEIU 775 helped pass a $15 minimum wage in SeaTac and Seattle.

“We’re a union that’s about justice for all,” Rolf said.

He called on members to be adaptive, innovative and creative to move into the future. Members must be ready for a strong fight to secure more wins for workers.

To great applause, he invited caregivers around the country, union and non union, to join in the fight to create the best economic environment for workers possible.

“No one should live in poverty for doing life sustaining care work,” he said. “The fight for $15 is for all of us.”

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CAREGIVER CONTRACT TO LIFT THOUSANDS OUT OF POVERTY

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.

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Washington Home Care Workers Vow to Stand Up for Seniors 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.

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