This newsletter is also available in:
Korean: 함께 더욱 강하게: SEIU 775 뉴스레터 겨울호
Russian: Вместе мы сильнее: зимняя новостная рассылка от SEIU 775
Simplified Chinese: 团结使我们更强大：SEIU 775 冬季内部通讯
Spanish: Juntos somos más fuertes: el boletín informativo de invierno de SEIU 775
Vietnamese: Cùng Nhau Lớn Mạnh: Bản Tin Mùa Đông Của SEIU 775
Caregiver Sisters, Brothers, and Siblings,
This newsletter is all about the progress we’ve made towards accomplishing our goals THIS YEAR.
In 2022, as a Union, we overwhelmingly voted to approve recommendations by our Vision Committee on a Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals to guide our work until 2032. At our Convention and Leadership Conference in September, we voted on a set of benchmarks we’re aiming to meet along the way. You can read about our Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals here: seiu775.org/our-priorities/
A few of the many things we accomplished THIS YEAR!
- We are proud to share that SEIU 775 is over 50,000 members strong in Washington, Montana, AND Alaska!
- In Washington, we won healthcare coverage for caregiver’s kids (for the first time!), increased retirement contributions, and raised wages. Nursing home workers won full funding, so we can get the pay increases we deserve. And we won hundreds of millions of dollars for new low-income housing.
- In Montana, caregivers fought back against a piece of legislation that would roll back all of the wins we’ve made in the state – AGAIN.
- In Alaska, we formed the first-ever caregivers union in the state and eliminated barriers that stopped family caregivers from becoming paid caregivers.
- Caregivers participated in Purple Presence, member meetings, and our Convention and Leadership Conference in eight different languages: English, Spanish, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Farsi, Arabic, and American Sign Language. We’re a Union where everyone can be a leader.
- Held employers accountable and won caregivers hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest, back pay and damages for late or inaccurate paychecks.
- We launched a program to support members and the people they care for through extreme weather events, learn more at https://seiu775.org/climate/
We’ve made tremendous strides since we approved our 10-year vision for the future. Our work is not finished, but we should all celebrate what we’ve done together.
Your SEIU 775 Officers and Executive Board
Electing Pro-Caregiver Politicians
SEIU 775 Goal: Fighting for Justice for All. Because of who we are, and who we care for, time and again care work has been left out of laws that protect other healthcare workers. The legacies of racism and sexism mean we constantly have to fight for the world that we, and those we care for, deserve. We fight for a world where clients, our families, ourselves, and our communities can live their best lives.
I became a caregiver when my mom needed someone to care for her – and I knew I had to be that person. But then, we fell on some hard times. I felt so alone. Then I remembered that I was a part of the Union, so I got in touch with my organizer, and it got easier.
As a Union, we work to elect pro-caregiver politicians who support us, our clients, our communities, and our vision of the future. And we un-elect those who don’t. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ and African American communities, I want to make sure my voice and the voices of caregivers like me are heard.
For this election, I door knocked for pro-caregiver candidates in Tacoma, phone banked, and sent out texts to other caregivers. Although we didn’t win them all, we won some and got some important initiatives passed – including a Tenant Bill of Rights in Tacoma. There is strength in numbers and by using our voices and our vote to make sure we’re helping create communities where we are respected and valued.
We’re in this together. And when we put in the work to make sure those in power are fighting for us, we’re one step closer to getting justice for all.
— Jaye H. (they/them), IP, Tacoma, WA
Taking a Seat at the Bargaining Table
SEIU 775 Goal: Making Caregiving a Good Career. The caregiving workforce is overwhelmingly women and disproportionally Black women, Indigenous women, women of color, Latina and Asian women, and Immigrants. Too many of us continue to struggle with low wages and inadequate benefits – and that’s not right.
I’m one of the agency caregivers who sat at the bargaining table with my employer. At the bargaining table, my employer has said he cares more about his office staff than us caregivers. That he can’t afford to give us raises because he needs to be able to “keep the lights on” for the business. But what about the lights in our HOMES? We need to keep those on too.
At the bargaining table, I told my employer about being a caregiver and a single mom. I’m juggling two different schedules, and being the best caregiver I can, while being a good mom for my kid. Sharing about my life and knowing that my story would help other caregivers, was a powerful moment for me. We shouldn’t have to struggle to make ends meet.
Caregiving is not an easy job, and I feel like we have the power to get the best contract. One that makes caregiving a good career so I can provide for my family.
— Katie K. (she/her), AP, Vancouver, WA
Alaska is Now a Part of SEIU 775!
SEIU 775 Goal: Building Power For Caregivers and All Workers. Caregivers in Washington, Montana, and Alaska are leading the way to make sure all workers can have a strong union. We will build a stronger SEIU 775 by helping new caregivers organize into our Union and by organizing new caregivers into our union and building our leaders and activists across all three states.
Caregivers in Alaska are in short supply because it’s a very demanding job and we don’t get much support or respect from agencies here. In fact, we’re expected to do our job, regardless of whether we’re getting paid or not. This all makes it hard for people to want to be and stay in this profession. And that’s why I’m so excited to be a part of SEIU 775 – the Caregivers Union.
I was introduced to our Union when a caregiver came to my door. I didn’t get it initially, but as we talked, it opened my eyes. And then I went to Convention and talked to many Washington caregivers about the things they’ve accomplished, like winning healthcare and retirement! My daughter is also a caregiver, so I’m also thinking about her future and what would help all caregivers. It feels like now, finally all of our dreams are in our reach. And I’m so excited we’re on the path!
We are a part of something powerful and big and we aren’t alone in fighting for what we deserve. Now we have the backing of 50,000 caregivers! I can finally see some light.
— BJ R. (she/her), IP, Wasilla, AK
Holding CDWA Accountable
SEIU 775 Goal: Winning Universal Access to Health and Long-Term Care. Over the next 10 years, the number of people who need long-term care will rapidly outpace the caregiver workforce’s current growth. There are real gaps in our long-term care system, and we must fight to strengthen and stabilize the in-home caregiving and nursing home workforce.
Becoming a caregiver three years ago was an easy choice – I enjoy taking care of people and I’m good at it! But I never knew the difficulties that I would face in this line of work, that have nothing to do with the person I care for. This time last year, I was struggling because CDWA wouldn’t pay me for time worked.
It all started when CDWA needed a background check for me. They failed to notify me ahead of time that my old one was expiring. Because of the expiration, I couldn’t get paid. Once I found out, I completed everything they asked of me, even before their due dates, and yet, I went two straight months without getting paid by CDWA. They kept dragging their feet and it felt like I was being punished for their mistakes. All the while, CDWA told me to keep working, keep logging my hours. It just made no sense. Like they were ok with me working in someone’s house, but couldn’t pay me?
So, I contacted our Union and filed a grievance against CDWA. This whole process was so weird and confusing for me. But our Union helped me the whole time AND I won! I got backpay, remedies, and interest for the late payment.
CDWA’s treatment was unacceptable. And I am thankful that our Union is constantly fighting, and continuing to hold CDWA accountable. It’s all of us caregivers, pounding on the door to get the respect we deserve.
— Tim G. (he/him), IP, Olympia, WA