Caregiver Sisters, Brothers, Siblings,
Caregivers brought our voices back in-person to Olympia, Helena, and Juneau to make sure our elected leaders acted on our calls to make caregiving a good career. Together we accomplished so much for our families, clients, communities, and ourselves!
In Washington, caregivers secured funding for long-term care workers’ wages and benefits in the 2023-2025 budget! This victory raises home care wages up by 10-11% and brings a 15% increase in the Nursing Home Rate over the next two years, which can be used to bargain wage and benefit increases.
In Montana, caregivers seized a historic opportunity to fix chronic underfunding for home care agencies, mental health, and residential services for people with disabilities. SEIU 775 members fought for our communities in the face of attacks from anti-worker politicians.
In Alaska, our soon-to-be-775 caregiver siblings held their first fly-in Purple Presence. Caregivers from around Alaska joined together to fight for better pay, protections, and the removal of barriers from family caregivers to becoming paid caregivers.
Caregivers were determined in our efforts — giving hours of testimony, sending thousands of emails and texts, and showing up loudly at Purple Presences, fly-ins, and days of action. We can be proud of all we fought for and accomplished together during these legislative sessions.
SEIU 775 President
What Winning Healthcare for Kids Means to Me and My Family
Caregivers have been fighting to add our kids to our healthcare for a long time, and this is finally a reality for Washington IPs. I’ve been fortunate to have good healthcare through my Union and it has literally saved my life. My husband also has healthcare through his employer, but there has been no option to add our sons to our plans. This has been a real stressor for our family. When my six-year-old son got hurt on the playground last year, I had to use my EMT training to determine that his nose wasn’t broken, rather than taking him to the emergency room, because I knew we couldn’t afford the bills from the ER. That’s not right and I shouldn’t have to worry about potentially going into bankruptcy if I need to take my kid to the hospital.
This year caregivers fought so hard to win healthcare for our kids in our new 2023-2025 IP contract. First, we pushed for this funding with the Rate Setting Board. Once we won that, we bargained with CDWA to add it to our benefits. We got that too and then we pressed our lawmakers to fully fund the Home Care Rate for this new benefit. Being able to add my kids to my healthcare is going to be a game changer for my family.
Dani R., IP, Asotin
Why We Fight: What it Means to be a Union Nursing Home Worker
I really felt the difference when our nursing home wages went up last year. Having $3 more an hour in my paycheck meant that I only needed to work one job, instead of two. This brings so much peace to me and to my family, giving me more time with my kids after work. Especially with how expensive everything has gotten, having this higher wage has decreased my stress. My job is helping people —helping them to get healthier. No one can do that if they’re stressed and unhealthy from working two jobs. If you’re unhealthy or stressed, how can you take care of others?
When I went to Purple Presence this year, I thanked my representatives for last year’s funding and reminded them to remember us this year and into the future. We need this funding for ourselves, and also to hire more staff. If we have more staff then we can spend more time with the residents —not hurry with them, which is where we can make mistakes. Raising our wages is good for nursing home workers and our residents.
Our goal is to take care of the residents and make them happy. We have to be happy first, then make them happy. We have to be strong and healthy ourselves, and then make them strong.
Lavanette D., Nursing Home Worker, Renton
Holding Politicians Accountable
This year was my second time going to a Purple Presence. Me and other caregivers from Yakima arranged for time off work and care for our clients to travel to Olympia. We had appointments scheduled with our representative, but when the time came to meet, they would not show up. We had come all this way, and they would not take a minute to talk to us.
This makes me even more committed to making sure we elect people who will listen to caregivers. If we don’t talk to our legislators, or if they won’t listen to us, then who will they listen to? We need them to hear us when we say that we need them to fund our contract. We don’t get paid as much as we should for all the work that we do. I am getting close to retirement age but will have to work even longer because our wages aren’t enough.
Although it was upsetting that they wouldn’t meet with us, I still really loved the experience. It is so important that we are together and that we fight alongside other members. Not everyone can take a day to go to Olympia, so I feel like I am speaking for all caregivers when I am there. With every member that joins the fight, we get that much stronger.
Maria G., Agency Provider, Yakima
Photo: Maria, center, with caregivers at the capitol in Olympia.
“My Union has given me both a voice at my job and a voice in my community. Because of my Union I am able to get more politically involved, including going to Helena to defeat a so-called “Right to Work” bill alongside other Union members. While there I got to meet my Representative in person and talk about our shared values to safeguard LGBTQ rights in our state. Just like things can’t simply happen to me at work anymore now that we have a Union, I feel like I have the power to speak out about what happens in my state.”
Makenzie S., Agency Provider, Butte
Photo: Caregiver Makenzie, center, with Rep. Donovan Hawk, left, and caregiver Winter, right.
Caregivers Fly to Juneau for First-Ever Alaska Purple Presence
I was very nervous before meeting my legislators. But I flew to our capitol in Juneau because who’s going to talk to our lawmakers, if not us? Who can represent caregivers better than us? I didn’t expect my representative to really want to hear from me, but she did. I learned the power of speaking my truth, with grace, and being my authentic self.
Right now, in Alaska, people don’t see being a caregiver as a job, let alone a career. As caregivers we’ve been alone without any support. I’ve been carrying being alone as a caregiver for a very long time. But at the fly-in I was in a room with other caregivers who are working to make the future better. I felt like I had people who were actually there for me! I wasn’t alone anymore.
This has given me hope that things aren’t going to continue the way they’ve been. This day together was one win, and I have hope that there are many more to come.
Rebecca R., Anchorage, Alaska
Caregivers in Alaska are fighting for better pay, protections, and the removal of barriers between family caregivers becoming paid caregivers. Learn more at seiu775.org/alaska
Photo: Caregiver Rebecca, left, with Rep. Alyse Galvin.
Working Families Tax Credit: It’s Finally Here!
Caregivers fought for years to pass the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC), a new tax credit for workers that went into effect this year. I was able to get this credit this year. At first, I didn’t know it would apply to me, but I looked into it when I was doing my taxes and it did. I’ve got a teenager who is a new driver and with the credit I was able to buy safe, new tires for their car. I had been nervous about them driving in the winter with old tires and would have had to buy tires on credit. Instead, I was able to make this practical and needed purchase in full. It was a real relief for me.
This Working Families Tax Credit is one of our efforts to balance Washington’s upside-down tax code, where lower income Washingtonians pay a higher percentage of our income in taxes, than do the ultra-wealthy. The WFTC provides eligible individuals and families in Washington with up to $1,200 in tax rebates. The WFTC made things just that little bit easier for my family.
Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply at WorkingFamiliesCredit.wa.gov.
Julie S., IP, Spokane
Supporting Yet-To-Be-Union Caregivers in Nevada
In April, I knocked on the door of a yet-to-be-Union caregiver in Nevada. This caregiver works all the time, with no time off and no sick leave. She works so her family can survive.
She told me about her client with bad anger issues – really bad. I told her how caregivers in Washington came together to pass our landmark HADit law to address the harassment, abuse, and discrimination of caregivers. She was floored. Shocked. She had no idea. She signed her Union card and told me, “You are the first person I have talked to that made me feel like I am somebody.”
I tell caregivers: with a Union you have support. That’s why I keep going to Nevada, because I’m fighting for every person to have a Union and a better life. I’ve gone 3 times and have talked to hundreds of caregivers without a Union. I want them to have what we have. The power we have. To be able to come together and make changes like we do, making caregiving a career and letting them know that they are not alone.
Brenda B., AP, Vancouver