Great news: We reached an agreement with the state on our 2017-2019 contract! ALL Washington State Individual Providers will earn at least $15/hour by 2019 under this contract, and our wage scale will go up to $17.65/hour.
It gets even better. Because we stood together in our union, we once again negotiated the best home care contract in the country, with major increases to our wages and benefits—plus some other highlights.
But our fight is not over: Just like all the other contracts we’ve negotiated, in order for our incredible new wages and benefits to take effect, we need to get it funded by the Legislature.
We’ll have to lobby hard, but when our contract is funded, here’s what we get as of July of 2017, including another first-in-the-nation win for Individual Providers:
- By the end of the contract, all caregivers will make at least $15/hour—but this contract also rewards experience, with a new top step of the wage scale and significant raises for experienced caregivers. At the end of the contract the most experienced caregivers will make $17.65/hour, not including differentials for things like training and specialized work.
- All caregivers will get raises every 6 months for the next 3 years. Caregivers get an average wage increases of $1.75/hr over the 2 years of the contract—and the average wage by the end of the contract will be over $16/hr.
- Our retirement benefit doubles to a state contribution of 50 cents per hour in July 2018.
- PTO increases to 1 hr for every 28 worked July 1, 2017 and to 1 hr for every 25 hours worked July 1, 2018.
- 15 minutes of paid administrative time each pay period—this is a first-in-the-nation achievement for state-paid home care individual providers!
- A new health and safety program, which will first conduct a comprehensive study of caregiver safety needs and then fund $600,000 in safety programs and equipment for caregivers in the second year of the contract.
- No out-of-pocket cost increases for our health insurance, plus an increase in funding for health and wellness programs. The Benefits Trust will also be able to explore improved benefits.
- Increase in funding for training will help provide access to training to parent providers and other caregivers exempt from training requirements, and expand training programs in areas such as nurse delegation, CPR/first aid, and mental health.
- Caregivers who complete certain advanced training will get an additional 50 cents per hour.
- New accountability for IPOne, including timelines for identifying and fixing problems.
- New protections against overpayments – caregivers who are working authorized hours must be paid for those hours if they haven’t been notified of termination, even if their contract or background check is incomplete or they have not completed required training.
The contract highlights the importance of the upcoming elections on November 8—negotiating the contract was just the first step. Now we need to get it funded.
This means we need to re-elect caregiver champion Jay Inslee for governor, and elect pro-caregiver candidates to the Legislature this fall.
We have no doubt in our minds that the Freedom Foundation will try to stop us—they want to take away caregivers’ political clout that we’ve built through our union. It’s this power we’ve built together in Olympia that allows us to win time and time again, and as they try to stop us, we’ll just get stronger.
It’s amazing how far we have come since IPs formed a union in 2002—when we made just over $7/hour, had no wage scale, no health insurance, no PTO, no L&I, no tax withholding, certainly no retirement benefit. Imagine where we’ll be in another 14 years!