Union Sisters, Brothers, Siblings,

Caregivers came together and raised our voices in a BIG way in Olympia this year. Because of the thousands of contacts between caregivers and legislators, we’ve won on many of our big priorities!

Last year, we kicked off our Time for $20 campaign. And now we’ve won funding to extend our pandemic wages of over $19 per hour for home care workers as well as funding for big wage increases in nursing homes.

In addition to the huge wins on Time for $20, we also won improvements to WA Cares which increases the number of people eligible for long-term care by over one million people. And we won big improvements in the in-home client personal needs allowance (PNA) – 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. Our clients and family members will be able to keep more money to use on their personal needs, including housing costs, utilities, food, and personal items.

Similar to our PNA win, we are also regularly fighting to better the lives of our clients and our communities. That’s why this year we also demanded and 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.
  • 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 and to provide permanent housing to those who need it.
  • Funding to expand Apple Health for Washington residents regardless of immigration status, beginning in January 2024.

The past two years have been rough on everyone, but if there’s one thing all of these wins can remind us of it is that even in the hardest of times, we’re stronger together.

In solidarity,
– Sterling Harders, SEIU 775 President

WA IPs: Know your HADit reporting guidelines

As caregivers, we know it is rewarding to help make someone’s life better, but at times it can be challenging because of the nature of our work. We often work in isolated environments that can put us at risk of harassment, abuse, and discrimination, which is why we helped make the landmark HADit legislation into law and have continued to fight for resources if any of us experience any of these.

That’s why I’m excited that the new HADit reporting guidelines were created by Washington State DSHS and Consumer Direct (CDWA), in partnership with SEIU 775. I think it’s crucial that caregivers are prepared to identify these situations and know what our options are.

The guidelines identify three levels of risk and provide recommendations on steps we can take if we find ourselves in one of these situations:

  • Level 1: Feel uncomfortable, but don’t feel you’re at risk
  • Level 2: Feel unsafe, but do not want or need to leave immediately
  • Level 3: Feel unsafe and want or need to leave immediately

The guidelines also include accountability for DSHS and CDWA representatives if we reach out to them, so our experiences aren’t ignored. I trust with these guidelines, our caregivers are empowered to provide excellent care to others.

Learn more about the steps you can take at seiu775.org/hadit

In solidarity,
– Sylvia Liang, SEIU 775 Caregiver and Executive Board Member, Seattle

Nursing home workers win raises!

Nursing homes were short-staffed even before the pandemic. That isn’t safe for me, and it isn’t safe for my residents. When COVID hit, workers were leaving, and no one else was even applying with what wages have been. This job is something we do out of love and duty, but that doesn’t mean we should have to take a vow of poverty. We deserve to be compensated for our essential work.

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. For me, a raise means I’ll be able to afford to fix some things around my house. I’ll be able to squirrel some money away and not have to worry about that one week a month when all the bills are due.

This funding will also mean better staffing, and more nursing homes will be able to stay open. I’ll get to spend more time with my residents and provide quality care. Without this funding, we would’ve had no hope of doing any of that.

I am so proud of everyone who has stuck it out in nursing homes during the pandemic. It has not been easy. And I have so much gratitude for all the nursing home and home care workers who talked about how important it was for us to get this funding.

Learn more at seiu775.org/2022legislativewins
– Shelly Hughes, SEIU 775 Nursing Home Caregiver and Executive Board Member, Bellingham

We won full funding for the updated IP contract with agency parity and continuing enhanced rates (hazard pay)!

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 an hour like we wanted, 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). Throughout the pandemic, home care workers have had to be so brave and take on the risks to ourselves and our families. Hazard pay has made the difference for a lot of us already working full-time to not have to choose which bill we’re going to pay this month.

Last year, I was diagnosed with cancer. It was caught in time, but it was only because of hazard pay that it was possible for me to pay my rent while I was out of work for surgery.

I know there are other people walking around right now in a scenario like that, where immediate action will be what saves their lives. We’ve needed this funding to take care of ourselves, and that translates to safer clients, too.

This funding is support for caregivers, but it’s also support for our elderly, our children, and our families and communities who need the care we provide. It will help provide dignity and quality of life for everyone needing and providing long-term care. We can take better care of our clients when we can take care of ourselves.

Learn more at seiu775.org/2022legislativewins
– Julie Sparkman, SEIU 775 Caregiver, Spokane

We will continue to hold DSHS accountable until every IP has successfully moved to CDWA

As an IP, I made the move to Consumer Direct (CDWA) at the beginning of this year. It took some work and a lot of patience to get through the paperwork, but I was able to get it all done. I won’t say it was the easiest thing to do, so if you are still working on it, I recommend that you try to do a little bit each day so you can get it done in time.

I know a lot of IPs have reported long hold times with the CDWA call center. That is why caregivers and our Union demanded that DSHS extend the deadline for Phase 2 IPs. The CDWA transition is expected to be complete by summer 2022, but we must make sure DSHS and CDWA give us the help we are asking for to get through this process.

All our benefits and protections that we count on will also stay in place once we move to CDWA. There will even be some new benefits – for example, we will get paid directly by CDWA for all hours worked and not have to collect co-pays from our clients.

Learn more at seiu775.org/cdwa. And please reach out to our Member Resource Center if you have questions about the transition or if you think you have been paid incorrectly.

– Manuel Brito, SEIU 775 Caregiver and Executive Board Member, Mount Vernon

Welcome caregivers of Communitas in Bremerton who recently voted to join our Union!

Dear SEIU 775 Caregivers,

We have so much right in front of us as we launch our Time for $20 campaign! But to succeed we can’t just look at what is right in front of us, we also have to build a vision for the future. So I’m putting together a committee of members to build a new ten-year vision, and we’ll need all of your help and input in that process.

This won’t be the first time we’ve brought members together to set long-term goals. In 2005, following our “Think Big, Act Big, Win Big” campaign, thousands of home care agency workers in Washington and Montana joined our Union and we established the best training standards in the country. In 2012, our Vision 2022 Committee set new goals for our Union, including lifting caregivers out of poverty and transforming health and long-term care. Since setting those goals, we’ve raised wages for home care workers from $10/hour to an average of almost $18/hr (not counting hazard pay) and helped tens of thousands of workers in Washington and Montana access health care through Medicaid expansion.

But we know that as we have won new victories, caregivers and all working people continue to face big challenges including rising income inequality, institutional racism, and the ongoing pandemic. We will rise to meet these challenges but that starts with a thoughtful and strategic plan and vision.

We officially kicked off our Vision planning during our Leadership Summits in September. And last month, we convened a committee of member leaders and began our regular meetings. Looking forward, we will be:

  • Holding a work session during the legislative session with leaders from across our Union
  • Sending out surveys to members about their priorities
  • Gathering feedback from members during membership meetings
  • Voting on the recommendations at Convention in the Fall of 2022

We’re excited to get started and to share updates as we make progress toward building our 10-year plan.

When we link arms and get to work, there’s nothing we can’t do together.

Sterling Harders, SEIU 775 President

SEIU 775’s Leadership

Sterling Harders, President
Adam Glickman, Secretary-Treasurer
Andrew Beane, Vice President
Shaine Truscott, Vice President
Tangie Webb, Vice President

Executive Board
Tanika Aden
Berta Alvarado
Shazia Anwar
Victoria “Vicki” Bickford

Manuel Brito
Agustina Cardenas
Jessica Field
Pamela Hansen
Sherylon “Shelly” Hughes
Darryl Johnson
Vera Kandrashuk
Jackie Keen
Sylvia Liang
Linda Long
Wei “Kandie” Luo
Daravadee “Dara” Mann
Debbra Maul
Brenda Morgan
Rhonda Parker

Rhonda Paul
Dora Poqui
Manuela “Nelly” Prieto
Danielle “Dani” Rice
Anna Rudova
Winnifred “Winie” Schafer
Margaret Singh
Edward “Ed” Solseng
Monique Taylor-Swan
Celeste Thompson
Eden Thompson
Earlene Webster
Brittany Williams
Susan “Susie” Young

2021 SEIU 775 Officer and Executive Board

Our caregivers’ Union has grown so much since we were founded. We’re now over 45,000 caregivers strong and we want our leadership – our officers and Executive Board – to grow as we grow. That’s why SEIU 775 members approved an amendment to expand our leadership by one Vice President and one Executive Board seat this year.
I’m excited to be one of three new Executive Board Members joining our returning Board Members along with Vicki Bickford from Vancouver and Brenda Morgan from Pasco. And I also want to welcome Jackie Keen from Spokane who was appointed by President Sterling Harders to the newly-created Board seat.

I am honored to join an amazing team that cares deeply for caregivers. Being a caregiver for 16 years, I have seen so many changes – wage increases, better benefits, health and safety protections, and so much more – and understand the power of our voice when we unite. The decisions we make as the Executive Board not only affect our caregivers but also the people we care for. Caregivers also voted Tangie Webb as Vice President, and President Harders appointed Shaine Truscott as Vice President to fill the new position.

On behalf of our Executive Board and officers, we look forward to continuing to move our Union forward in our fight for $20 an hour and so much more.
– Dora Poqui, IP, Tacoma, WA

SEIU 775 hits the road with our first Leadership Summits

In September, our Union took our Leadership Conference on the road and held five outdoor Summits in Everett, Chehalis, Tacoma, Spokane, and Yakima. I was joined by tens of caregivers who attended the Everett Leadership Summit where we got everything started with lots of energy, socially-distanced conversation, celebration, inspiring speakers, and so much more. It was a thrill to be in the same space with other Union brothers, sisters, and siblings.

With our theme of ‘This is Why,’ caregivers welcomed each other to one of our first in-person events in more than a year. I got to share my experience with caregivers as part of the Everett ‘This is Why’ panel where I talked about the latest news on HADit, our campaign against the harassment, abuse, and discrimination of caregivers. So many of us worked hard to make HADit happen during the 2020 legislative session, but to see the work being done to make sure caregivers know about our resources and rights and having it in our contracts is huge! It’s wins like these that help remind me why we work so hard as a Union and as caregivers. And to come together to celebrate our strength, even during some of the toughest years, is amazing.

– Melissah Watts, Parent Provider, Seattle, WA
Watch our recap videos: seiu775.org/2021summits

IPs start the move to CDWA

I was part of the first group of IPs to transition to Consumer Direct of WA (CDWA) alongside about 200 others to test the system. All IPs are moving to CDWA, our new legal employer, in the next few months as they are replacing the State of Washington and taking over things like payroll from IPOne. This is a big move, but our wages, benefits, and representation we count on as part of our SEIU 775 Union contract will stay the same and clients will continue to direct their own care.

I, like many others, was a little wary of this move at first, but the transition process wasn’t really hard. My biggest tip for IPs is to pay close attention to your email when it comes to the CDWA transition because it’s important to get all the steps done, so that we get paid on time by CDWA.

There’s also a lot of resources from our Union to help IPs as we move to CDWA including a video with tips from me on what I learned to make the process easier for you on our website.

About 15,000 IPs started the process in November and the rest of our IPs will start in January of 2022.

– Rhonda Parker, IP, Bucoda, WA
Learn more: seiu775.org/CDWA

It’s time for $20 an hour!

As caregivers, we are taking care of another life, and this is incredibly important work. Our jobs of caring for others need to be paid in a way that shows the importance and value of caregiving.

Having higher wages isn’t just about making ends meet. It’s about respect for the work that caregivers do. That’s why our Union has started Time for $20: the campaign to get a starting wage of at least $20 an hour for all long-term caregivers in Washington.

A starting wage of at least $20 an hour will allow caregivers to provide for ourselves and our families, and it’s a huge step towards getting the dignity and respect we deserve.

As the 2022 legislative session begins, we will need to keep fighting to make sure caregivers are treated like the essential workers we are. It’s up to us to keep the pressure up on our elected officials and make sure they hear us loud and clear. We’ll need as many people as possible demanding change this year – because we’re stronger together!

– Miranda Bridges, IP, Moses Lake, WA
Listen to our Time for $20 tele-town hall: seiu775.org/tth

BOZEMAN – There has been an ongoing discussion in Washington on how much to spend for President Biden’s Build Back Better plan.

Anna Volkersz, a home care worker in Bozeman—says the waiting is costly not only for her but for her clients.

“It takes a special person to do what we’re doing,” says Volkersz “We help take care of seniors, elderly, disabled, developmentally disabled also, we’re getting a lot more mental health clients.”

With the pandemic, Montana’s high cost of living, and the worker shortage, Anna is not sure she can keep up with her calling.

To read more, please visit KBZK.

SEATTLE — Thousands of state workers caring for some of Washington’s most vulnerable people are not included in Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate.

This includes individual providers who care for people in their own homes. The job could mean administering medication, helping with bathing or running errands.

The Department of Social and Health Services says there are around 46,000 of these workers who are contracted by the state.

The governor’s office points to data that shows 75% of individual providers caring for a relative, some in their own homes, as one reason for the exemption.

To read more, please visit King5 news.