FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 20, 2020
Contact: Nina Jenkins, Nina.Jenkins@seiu775.org, 206-618-6718
Photos available upon request.
WASHINGTON CAREGIVERS TAKE ACTION FOR THE MOVEMENT FOR BLACK LIVES
Nationally, caregivers are primarily Black women, women of color, and immigrants, and the nursing home workforce is disproportionately made up of Black people
SEATTLE, WA – Today, in-home caregivers and nursing home workers represented by SEIU 775 are taking action in support of the Strike for Black Lives and demanding Hazard Pay for being frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caregivers are proud to support the Strike for Black Lives because Black Lives Matter every day. SEIU 775 supports the demands of Black Lives Matter Seattle King County and Decriminalize Seattle. Racism is a public health crisis in this country and the state of Washington needs to recognize, and lead, in addressing this pandemic.
SEIU 775 President Sterling Harders says, “Caregivers know Black Lives Matter. When caregivers see the lives of Black people being diminished, we are called to take action. We have fought systemic racism since we became a union – and we will not stop. Our work has been undervalued because historically many caregivers were Black women, who remain a large part of the national caregiving workforce. It’s time for the essential health care work of caregivers to be respected. Caregivers are proud to support today’s Strike for Black Lives because Black Lives Matter every day.”
Nationally, caregivers are primarily Black women, women of color, and immigrants, and the nursing home workforce is disproportionately made up of Black people. COVID-19 is hitting these communities the hardest while state programs and facilities are not receiving the funding needed to keep residents and workers safe and cared for.
The statewide action includes caregivers and nursing home workers protesting, sharing their experiences, and supporting local organizations.
Nursing home workers in Yakima – a city with less than four percent of Washington state’s population but almost 15 percent of its COVID-19 cases – are protesting downtown today as part of a national movement in support of the Movement for Black Lives and to demand funding for long-term care facilities like the ones hit hardest by the pandemic. They will be joined by essential workers from SEIU 925, SEIU 1199NW, and other community partners.
“Having enough funding to take care of our residents, and to pay us workers some hazard pay, is a racial justice issue too,” said nursing home worker Bonita Campbell. “They should be paying us fairly for the risks we’re taking to do this work every day during this COVID-19 pandemic. Just this week another employee tested positive in our building. Every day I go to work thinking I could get it. I told my kids for the past month, stay away from me. We should be getting paid hazard pay for this work.”
Overall, at least 279 long-term care facilities in Washington state have had known cases of COVID-19. These facilities have had at least 2,894 cases among residents and staff, resulting in 507 deaths. This means residents and workers in long-term care facilities made up one in five (17%) of all cases in the state and more than half of all COVID-19-related deaths.
SEIU 775, the caregivers union, represents more than 45,000 long-term care workers providing quality home care, nursing home care, and residential services in Washington and Montana.