Because of caregivers coming together and raising our voices through thousands of actions – sending emails, making calls, testifying, talking to lawmakers at a Purple Presence, and more – most legislators chose to stand by caregivers this legislative session, and we have so much to celebrate!
Here’s everything we fought for – and won – during the 2022 legislative session!
Time for $20
Home care: We won full funding for the updated IP contract with agency parity and continuing enhanced rates (hazard pay)!
This means home care workers will continue to receive higher wages through a combination of hazard pay and our bargained contract raises through the rest of our 2021-2023 contract, which expires in June 2023.
While we didn’t get everyone all the way to $20, we made huge progress. We secured funding to continue IPs starting wage of $19.26 (including hazard pay) and higher wages along each wage scale step. Workers at the top of the wage scale are now making more than $21.50 (not counting differentials). We still need to negotiate with the State but expect to be able to continue these wages through June 2023. We will continue to update caregivers as we negotiate an official updated pay rate for April 1 – June 30, and then for July 1, 2022, through June 2023.
We will then be working this year on bargaining our next IP contract, which will go into effect starting July 2023. In bargaining, we hope to win a starting wage of more than $20/hour and permanently increased wages for all caregivers to ensure that when hazard pay expires, no one gets a pay cut.
For APs, this means we’ll head back into impact bargaining with all our employers to negotiate the same hazard pay wins.
We’ll have more to share in the coming weeks, and you can learn more in the meantime here: seiu775.org/covidipbargaining
Nursing homes: We won full funding for nursing home workers to see up to $4/hour raise, with rate increases starting July 1, 2022!
We fought this legislative session to win $20 an hour for all long-term care workers, because we have been working on the frontlines of this pandemic, and we know that nursing homes were underfunded even before COVID.
Hundreds of nursing home workers around the state called and lobbied their representatives to tell them nursing home wages need to be funded, and they heard us. The funding for wage increases for nursing home workers will arrive this summer, which is when our bargaining teams will be negotiating new raises and wage scales.
Essential work deserves a living wage, and the funding for these wage increases will go a long way to solve our staffing crisis, bring workers back to our facilities, and allow us to provide for ourselves and our families.
WA Cares is critical for addressing our state’s looming age wave and the strain it will put on the State’s long-term care system. This budget funds outreach about improvements the legislature made to WA Cares, which includes increasing the number of people eligible for home care funds by over one million people!
Personal Needs Allowance
We passed SB 5745 and won funding to increase the in-home client personal needs allowance (PNA) from 100 percent of the federal poverty level to 300 percent of the federal benefit rate. This means our clients will have to pay less in co-pays and keep more money to use on their personal needs, including housing costs, utilities, food, and personal items. Almost 85% of the home care clients who currently have co-pays will no longer have to pay them, and the rest will see much reduced co-pays.
We also won:
- Funding for community-based organizations to educate and provide resources to help people apply for the Working Families Tax Credit, a new benefit starting in 2023 that provides eligible individuals up to an additional $1,200 on their tax return.
- Health care access regardless of immigration status: Funding to expand Apple Health for Washington residents regardless of immigration status, beginning in January 2024.
- Permanent supportive housing to help prevent homelessness: Apple Health and Homes Program (Program) that will provide a permanent supportive housing benefit and a community support services benefit to persons who below a certain income, experience medical risk factors and face barriers to finding stable housing.
- Affordable prescription drugs: A new prescription price transparency board was created, and a new law requires health plans, including health plans offered to public employees and their dependents, to cap the price for a 30-day supply of insulin at $35.
- Increased affordable housing: Increased funding and several new laws expand the ability to allow local governments to build affordable housing across Washington.
- Improvements to TANF: For families with children under three, the department will be able to provide an additional benefit to be used on diapers, and DSHS is able to provide transitional food assistance for five months to a household that ceases to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and is not in full family sanction status.
In a year when we couldn’t go to the Capitol or talk to our legislators in person, we still made sure they could hear us. We’re stronger together. Thank you for taking action!