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.