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Spotlight On Poverty: If You Care about Economic Growth, Feed a Fast Food Worker

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…
http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org/ExclusiveCommentary.asp

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More than 100 caregivers rally in Spokane for $15

“Drive for Dignity: $15 for caregivers” statewide bus tour
ends with call to legislature for better wages

SPOKANE – A 400-mile statewide bus tour wrapped up Thursday at Riverfront Park with more than 100 caregivers demanding a pathway to a $15 wage.

“If Seattle can do it, Washington can pass a $15 wage for caregivers. We take care of the state’s most vulnerable people and we still live in poverty,” said Anna Rudova, a caregiver from Edmonds. The SEIU 775 member got on the bus in Seattle on Tuesday. “Each day I do hard work to help my client live at home with dignity. But until I get paid $15, I won’t feel like I have dignity as a caregiver.”

Home care aides are among the fastest growing professions in the United State. Yet most Washington caregivers earn a $10.50 starting wage. The low wage results in about a third of the state’s 40,000 caregivers living in poverty, according to state statistics.

“Caregivers take care of the most vulnerable people in our communities and we need to take care of them by making sure they’re paid a living wage,” State Rep. Marcus Riccelli told caregivers at Thursday’s rally in Spokane.

Lawmakers and senior advocates supported each stop of the statewide bus tour.

“I want people who are receiving home care to be in a safe place to live, to have enough food on the table, to be treated with dignity and respect and to enjoy continuity of care,” said Robby Stern, president of Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action. Stern, who spoke at the Seattle kick-off on Tuesday, said home care workers can save for education and retirement if they earned a higher wage. “A $15 wage will benefit our community.”

Although some caregivers in Seattle can expect a $15 wage in seven years – as mandated under the city’s new law – most caregivers in Washington must rely on a state contract to raise wages.

Independent providers of home care, workers who are paid through the Medicaid system, make up the majority of the state’s long-term care workforce. They collectively bargain with the state every two years. The most recent contract, signed by Gov. Inslee in 2013, starts at $10.50. Union members and state labor negotiators began last month to negotiate a new contract.

“We must prepare now for the coming age wave,” Rudova said. “Only when we all start at $15 will we be able to attract enough workers to care for the growing number of seniors.”

One in five Washington residents will be 65 or older by 2030, according to demographic trends. And about 70 percent of people over 65 will require long-term care at some point, studies show.

Home and community-based long-term care costs the state about one-third of institutional care, making investments in home care aides both a way to provide more compassionate care for seniors and people with disabilities and save the state money.

Higher minimum wages also helps fuel local economies. When workers get paid more, they buy more from small businesses, economists say.

The three-day bus tour started Tuesday morning in Seattle on Tuesday, before making stops in Everett and Tri-Cities, and ending in Spokane. More than 60 low-wage workers made the 400-mile trek.

Each stop is featuring a rally and demonstrations of the hard work caregivers perform each day for their clients.

SEIU 775 represents 43,000 long-term care workers in Washington and Montana.

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WNS: In-Home Caregivers “Drive for Dignity,” Higher Pay

(06/10/14) SEATTLE – Three days and three destinations across the state – that’s the plan for a bus tour leaving Seattle on Tuesday. A group of in-home caregivers is onboard, with the message that if they can eventually earn a $15-an-hour minimum wage in Seattle, others around the state should be able to do the same.

Members of SEIU Healthcare 775 Northwest work with people who need daily assistance to remain in their homes, from chores and personal care to medication management. SEIU 775 spokesman Jackson Holtz says it’s a demanding job and higher wages would attract and retain workers at a time when the need for in-home care is growing.

“Right now, one in three caregivers in the state of Washington lives in poverty,” explains Holtz. “That means that they rely on public assistance – on food stamps and on other public services. We’re saying that’s just not right, and that they deserve the dignity of a $15 wage.”

Holtz says the home-care workers get professional training through the union and background checks, and have a wage scale that now starts around $10 an hour. This week’s “Drive for Dignity” tour is making stops in Everett, the Tri-Cities and Spokane.

One caregiver on the bus is Anna Rudova of Edmonds, who is originally from Russia. She says she earns almost $14 an hour, but only after 14 years on the job. She’s concerned that a new generation of workers won’t want to be caregivers, or won’t stick with it, because of the low pay. Rudova says it’s hard for caregivers to take time off for any reason – but she thinks the bus tour is an exception.

“Caregivers can try to find people who will take care of their client and take part in this tour – because this is very important for everybody,” says Rudova. “It will give us a new chance to live better.”

Rudova is also part of the bargaining team negotiating with the State of Washington for the caregivers’ next contract for Medicaid patients. She says keeping people at home when they are older or have disabilities costs the state only one-third of what it would take to keep them in nursing homes or other facilities, underscoring the need for an adequate in-home care workforce.

 

Click here to view this story on the Public News Service RSS site and access an audio version of this and other stories: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2014-06-10/livable-wages-working-families/in-home-caregivers-drive-for-dignity-higher-pay/a39855-1

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“Drive for Dignity: $15 for caregivers” statewide bus tour

 Caregivers: “We deserve dignity and $15”
“Drive for Dignity: $15 for caregivers” statewide bus tour
sparks awareness of age wave, job growth

SEATTLE (June 10, 2014) – A week after the Seattle City Council passed a historically high $15 minimum wage, home care aides and nursing home workers are touring the state to ask state lawmakers for a pathway to a $15 wage.

“If Seattle can do it, Washington can pass a $15 wage for caregivers. We take care of the state’s most vulnerable people and we still live in poverty,” said Anna Rudova, a caregiver from Edmonds and a member of SEIU 775, the caregivers’ union. “Each day I do hard work to help my client live at home with dignity. But until I get paid $15, I won’t feel like I have dignity as a caregiver.”

Home care aides are among the fastest growing professions in the United State. Yet most Washington caregivers earn a $10.50 starting wage. The low wage results in about a third of the state’s 40,000 caregivers living in poverty, according to state statistics.

Although some caregivers in Seattle can expect a $15 wage in seven years – as mandated under the city’s new law – most caregivers in Washington must rely on a state contract to raise wages.

Independent providers of home care, workers who are paid through the Medicaid system, make up the majority of the state’s long-term care workforce. They collectively bargain with the state every two years. The most recent contract, signed by Gov. Inslee in 2013, starts at $10.50. Union members and state labor negotiators began last month to negotiate a new contract.

“We must prepare now for the coming age wave,” Rudova said. “Only when we all start at $15 will we be able to attract enough workers to care for the growing number of seniors.”

One in five Washington residents will be 65 or older by 2030, according to demographic trends. And about 70 percent of people over 65 will require long-term care at some point, studies show.

Home and community-based long-term care costs the state about one-third of institutional care, making investments in home care aides both a way to provide more compassionate care for seniors and people with disabilities and save the state money.

Higher minimum wages also helps fuel local economies. When workers get paid more, they buy more from small businesses, economists say.

The three-day bus tour is scheduled to start in Seattle on Tuesday, June 10, before making stops in Everett and Tri-Cities, and ending in Spokane. About 60 low-wage workers are making the 400-mile trek.

Each stop is featuring a rally and demonstrations of the hard work caregivers perform each day for their clients.

SEIU 775 represents 43,000 long-term care workers in Washington and Montana.

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David Rolf statement on Forward Seattle

David Rolf, SEIU 775 President and co-chair of the Income Inequality Advisory Committee (IIAC), today issued the following statement:

“Despite widespread agreement among the Seattle business and labor community not to pursue competing ballot initiatives and overwhelming public support for the ordinance just passed by the City Council and signed by the Mayor, a fringe group of right-wing ideologues in the business community today showed that they will stop at nothing to prevent workers from earning a living wage. This is selfish, short-sighted, and stupid. Those of us on the IIAC who worked tirelessly for months to produce a plan that works for labor and business are deeply disappointed to see others pursuing plans that would weaken the gains for our community. We certainly don’t expect them to succeed.

“We call on Forward Seattle to release a list of the businesses who support their initiative.  That way Seattle consumers will know which establishments not to patronize.” – David Rolf

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2014 candidate endorsements

See our 2014 endorsed candidates: : http://seiu775.org/endorsements/

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Seattle leads nation with plan to raise minimum wage to $15

Labor and business reach landmark agreement to improve workers’ lives and fuel economy


SEATTLE (May 1, 2014) — David Rolf, president of SEIU Healthcare 775NW and vice president of SEIU, today issued the following statement in response to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s plan to raise the minimum wage in Seattle to $15:

“Raising Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 reaches far beyond the 100,000 workers who will benefit within the city limits. Today, Seattle workers send a clarion call to all working people in America. Workers can achieve a share of the American Dream when we act courageously, spur unrest and then unite in action to elect leaders like Mayor Ed Murray. As co-chair of the Income Inequality Advisory Committee, I want to thank Mayor Murray for his leadership, and recognize Howard Wright, my co-chair, and all the committee members including my brothers and sisters from the labor movement and the business community. I now urge the City Council to act swiftly. The agreement, born from the actions of brave fast-food workers, will pump nearly $500 million into Washington’s economy, proving that a higher minimum wage fuels business and job growth. Today, this victory is for Seattle. Tomorrow, as thousands of low-wage workers mobilize, we will stand down extremists who want to split apart our communities; we will demonstrate to doubters that middle-out economics benefits all; and we will rekindle the American pledge to leave a brighter future for the next generation.”

Read The American Prospect article on Seattle’s new minimum wage proposal:
“Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage Agreement: Collective Bargaining Reborn?”
http://prospect.org/article/seattles-15-minimum-wage-agreement-collective-bargaining-reborn

Read The Seattle Times piece on the minimum wage movement in Seattle:
“Unions are back with city by city wage campaign”
http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2023524410_westneat04xml.html

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SEIU Healthcare NW Training Partnership recognized by White House

The SEIU Healthcare NW Training Partnership, the largest home care worker training provider in the country, was recognized by the White House on Wednesday, April 16 for the expansion of its unique apprenticeship program. The program, which is designed to meet the career pathway needs of Washington state’s 43,000 Home Care Aides, works to fill the workforce need in home care, the fastest growing occupation in the country.

As part of an initiative by the White House to invest in job training to help workers get trained with high-demand skills, the President and Vice President highlighted five business, union and nonprofit groups for their work to expand apprenticeships. They also announced the availability of $100 million in funds to reward partnerships that help more workers participate in apprenticeships.

The Training Partnership’s first in the nation Registered Apprenticeship program for Home Care Aides was lauded for its commitment to train 3,000 apprentices a year in five years from the current level of 300 a year. In addition, the Training Partnership will leverage learning technologies to scale training programs to reach 10 times more workers over five years. The Training Partnership, which is a nonprofit school created and sponsored by a labor-management partnership, will work with the State of Washington, SEIU, home care providers, healthcare systems, healthcare purchasers and payors and other stakeholders to achieve these goals.

Training Partnership Executive Director, Charissa Raynor, says investing in apprenticeships is a smart choice. “Registered Apprenticeship is a proven model for developing high demand skills and advancing worker earning potential. Expansion in the home care workforce opens the door to Registered Apprenticeship in new industries, like healthcare,” she says. “Apprenticeship will target the expanding role of home care workers to add value to the healthcare system by improving health and healthcare cost outcomes. We’ll do this by training and technologizing home care workers to reduce avoidable and expensive emergency room, hospitalization, and nursing home use.”

Over the next few months, the Aspen Institute, with support from the Ford Foundation and SkillUp Washington, will conduct a study of the Training Partnership’s innovative approaches to better understand the impact of the organization’s training on the state’s home care workforce and home care consumers.

www.myseiubenefits.org

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Thousands of Home Care Workers Eagerly Await Back Pay/Celebrate Modest Gains

SEATTLE – It will likely take another several weeks to get their first check, but tens of thousands of home care workers are eagerly awaiting their share of $57 million in back pay owed to them by the state. SEIU 775 executive board member T.J. Janssen is one of the 22,000 home care workers due back pay because of a State Supreme Court Ruling earlier this month. The court found the Department of Social and Health Services improperly cut the pay of workers who were living with the clients they care for.

“There’s a lot of caregivers that had to leave a job,” he explains. “It’s only fair that they get paid to do that, because that job they were working before was paying their bills.”

The 5-to-4 decision found the state violated its good faith duty in dealing with the terms of its contract with providers. The department did catch one break in the ruling, which threw out interest on the back pay. The average worker is expected to get about $3,500.

Looking ahead to the next legislative session, Janssen points out lawmakers are starting to understand that home care workers provide services that save the state money in the long run. He hopes they remember that at budget time.

“Start restoring the hours,” he says. “We don’t expect them to restore all of them at one time – at least I don’t – but to get caregivers out of poverty, because all of the cuts during the recession has put a lot of caregivers in poverty.”

As for the 2014 session that ended last month, Janssen says his union stood with brother and sister nursing home workers in winning a major funding victory. “Twenty million dollars in new funding for nursing homes,” he says. “Nine million of it is earmarked especially for improving wages, benefits and staffing for nursing homes.”

Janssen says home care workers will also be safer on the job thanks to a measure passed this session that provides workers with safety gloves. Prior to the legislation about 75 percent of home care workers had to pay for their own gloves, which he says many workers did without, because they could not afford them. – See more at: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/index.php?/content/article/38744-1#sthash.A8FcFqGf.dpuf

 

See more at: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/index.php?/content/article/38744-1#sthash.A8FcFqGf.dpuf

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SEIU Healthcare 775NW mourns Judy Harris


SEIU Healthcare 775NW mourns the death of Judy Harris. Judy was a career caregiver and an executive board member. She was 70.

“It goes without saying that Judy was an amazing, inspirational leader of our fight and will truly be missed by the SEIU family,” SEIU 775 President David Rolf said. “Judy was an incredible example of what it means to be a leader, an advocate and a friend. Judy has inspired and touched so many with the work she has done all over this nation fighting for justice.”

She died early Friday, February 21, at her home in Port Orchard. Judy fell ill earlier this month and was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, she has been surrounded by family and friends.

Despite her petite frame, Judy always was an oversized presence whether she was gathering signatures at a ferry landing or meeting lawmakers in Olympia. She fiercely fought for justice in the halls of government in both Washingtons, often sweetening her lobbying with homemade pies.

“In my nine years in public service I can tell you that Judy Harris was someone that I cherished — her commitment to serving, her compassion, her impassioned advocacy,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer, who represented Judy first in the Washington State Legislature and now in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Kilmer spent time with Judy at rallies, in Olympia and he spent a day walking in her shoes while she cared for her client, David.

“By the end of the day I was exhausted physically and emotionally . . . and so grateful that Judy and other caregivers do the work they do to help people live with dignity,” Kilmer said.

The congressman said he hopes that Judy now has found the peace she brought to others.

“They say that when someone passes the wind blows — the stronger the soul, the stronger the wind,” Kilmer said. “The winds will be howling for awhile around here.  We’ll miss you, Judy.”

Judy traveled all over the country knocking on doors and talking to caregivers. Her first trip was to Missouri in 2006, where she brought hope to caregivers struggling in poverty, and for which she was awarded the Member Organizer of the Year award by her union brothers and sisters. Judy drove across Montana, from Lame Deer to Kalispell, uniting caregivers in our union. All in all, Judy knocked on doors in nine states, most recently in 2012 in Connecticut. Judy relished these trips as much as any other part of her work, constantly asking (demanding really) to know when the next chance she would have to tell her story to other caregivers. There are tens thousands of caregivers around the country whose lives Judy changed for the better. Judy also was a tireless advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.

She is survived by her daughter, Laree Harris, of Port Orchard, and her entire family at SEIU.

The memorial service for Judy will be Friday, Feb 28, at 2pm:

Sunset Lane Memorial Park
1000 Bethel Ave
Port Orchard, WA, 98366

The reception will be at 3pm:

New Beginning Church
810 SW. Wildwood Rd
Port Orchard, WA

All are welcome. There will also be a celebration of Judy’s life on Saturday, March 8 – more details as they are made available.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the Judy Harris Memorial Fund can be made at:
http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/judy-harris-memorial-fund/141862

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