“Brittany Williams, a home care worker in Seattle, said her work was scaled back this year because she’s had to focus on her 8-year-old son whose classes have gone online. She’s down to working two days a week and gets by thanks to food donations from her church. 

Williams makes $17.05 an hour thanks to a union contract, putting her slightly above the median wage of $14.76 for home care workers in Seattle. But the stress — of missing bills, riding the bus to work and wondering whether she or her son will get sick — has made for a punishing year. 

Williams outlined those challenges for Biden during a roundtable discussion he held with frontline health care workers in November

‘Caregivers, we’re the maintainers of life,’ she told him. ‘Caregivers were out there doing what had to be done, and we still are. We have to live with the [fear] in the back of our head.’

Reflecting on the call later, Williams said it was ‘humbling’ to see so much focus put on care work for the first time. 

‘It’s time for essential workers to be respected,’ said Williams, 34. ‘It’s beyond time that we are protected and we are paid on the level of what we give out as far as our value.'”

Read more from The 19th News.

“SEATTLE — Caregivers are calling on Washingtonians who cheered on health care workers when the pandemic began to oppose state cuts to care services.

The Service Employees International Union Local 775’s ‘You Clapped. Now Act!’ campaign is calling on lawmakers to rethink the proposed $1.1 billion cut to the Department of Social and Health Services for the 2021 to 2023 budget.

Olga Garcia is an in-home caregiver in Sedro-Woolley, a city in northern Washington. She said she’s helping her client stay in her home.

‘There’s no way that she would be able to do anything on her own, and she’s scared,’ Garcia said. ‘She doesn’t want to go to a nursing home or somewhere else. She likes where she lives and she likes to have us go in there and care for her.’

SEIU 775 says the cuts put 10,000 in-home caregivers’ jobs at risk, and another 10,000 older people and people with disabilities could be kicked off home-care services. It also could mean 2,800 people will be kicked out of the nursing homes where they live.”

Read more from Public News Service.

“Patricia Short navigates the halls and quarantine zones in the nursing home where she works, checking residents for COVID-19 symptoms, testing them when they show signs of coronavirus infection and telling their frustrated family members they still can’t come inside to visit.

It’s been an unrelenting nine months for Short and other long-term care facility staff and residents across Washington, with more than half of the state’s coronavirus deaths linked to long-term care.

Some of her coworkers at the Yakima County nursing home have quit or retired. Short, a nurse of more than 25 years, has endured more than one outbreak.

But she’s still optimistic — because the vaccine has arrived in Washington and is due soon in the state’s nursing homes.”

Read more from The Seattle Times.

“Leaders of industry groups commended the state for moving quickly to come up with the rapid-response teams, but they noted that the teams aren’t a fix for the ongoing need for adequate staffing. Adam Glickman, the secretary-treasurer of SEIU 775, which represents long-term care workers, said the shortages call for paying workers higher wages and affordable health benefits.

‘This plan helps overstressed nursing home workers who are covering for sick co-workers in the short term and that’s great and necessary,’ Glickman said in an email. ‘But we should be clear that this is a bandage to stop the bleeding, and doesn’t address the underlying problem which is ongoing dramatic underfunding of our state’s nursing homes.'”

Read more on The Seattle Times’ website.

Caregivers launch “You Clapped. Now Act!” campaign aimed at stopping cuts to long-term care and passing progressive revenue in Washington State

During the Washington State Legislature’s Committee Days, long-term care workers and allies across the State are demanding lawmakers stop any proposed cuts to long-term care and fix the state’s upside-down tax code.

Seattle, WA (12/3/20) – Today, long-term care workers are launching a campaign focused on stopping all proposed DSHS cuts to long-term care and passing progressive revenue in Washington State.

The You Clapped. Now Act! campaign will channel the energy of everyone who clapped for healthcare workers at the beginning of the pandemic, into advocacy for long-term care funding and progressive revenue.

“Being a caregiver means I can provide for my family, but any cuts to long-term care would be devastating for us. In October, my husband was laid off. We’re stretched thin,” said Brenda Morgan, a caregiver of 17 years from Pasco, WA. “This pandemic has taken so much from so many of us and I came close to losing my life from COVID-19. It took me five weeks to fully recover, and during that time, I never stopped thinking about my client.”

Long-term care workers – people who work in Nursing Homes and as in-home care providers – have always been on the frontlines of healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic focused global attention on the Black women, women of color, and immigrants who make up the long-term care workforce as they work tirelessly and at great risk to themselves and their families. Long-term care workers have saved lives, kept people out of crowded hospitals, and helped Washington’s most vulnerable populations live their lives with dignity.

Heralded as heroes, 10,000 long-term care workers are now at risk of losing their jobs. DSHS’s proposed 2021-2023 budget cuts $1.1 billion dollars in long-term care services for the elderly and people with disabilities.

“My clients depend on me to get washed and dressed, eat, take their medications, and get to their appointments,” said Gail Blake a caregiver of 11 years from Spokane. “Without me, I’m not sure who they would turn to. For my clients, I’m not only their healthcare professional – I’m their connection to the world.”

The State’s pandemic-driven economic crisis is a moment to reassess our priorities – would we rather cut long-term care or turn the country’s most regressive tax system into a more progressive one.

“I have been a caregiver for 15 years and I’ve seen us go from being paid just over minimum wage to a starting wage of over $17 an hour. I pay almost 20% in taxes, but millionaires and billionaires pay way less,” said Olga Garcia, a caregiver from Sedro-Wooley. “It’s time for the richest people in our state to pay their fair share.”

The You Clapped. Now Act! campaign is asking the public to send letters to their State elected officials.

“With the proposed DSHS cuts looming, long-term care workers now have to worry not only about the pandemic, the people they care for, and their families, but also whether or not they will be able to keep their jobs,” said Sterling Harders, SEIU 775 President. “Any cut to long-term care funding in the middle of a pandemic is tantamount to neglect.”

You can sign the letter by clicking here, and watch the campaign videos and gifs created on Vimeo or YouTube.

DSHS Proposed Cuts Background

DSHS’s proposed 2021-2023 budget cuts $1.1 billion in long-term care services for the elderly and people with disabilities. For the people of Washington, these cuts mean:

  • More than 10,000 seniors and people with disabilities will be kicked off of home care services
  • More than 2,800 people will be kicked out of the nursing home where they live
  • 10,000 in-home caregivers will lose their jobs, resulting in a loss of $150 million in income per year to local economies
  • Wages and benefits for in-home caregivers that keep their jobs will be cut by $50 million, a loss of about $1,300 a year for a full-time caregiver
  • Between changes in eligibility and rates cuts, home care funding will be cut by $200 million a year
  • Between changes in eligibility and rates cuts, nursing home funding will be cut by $240 million a year
  • Disproportionally, these cuts will impact Black, Indigenous, and communities of color as clients and long-term care workers