February 1, 2019
SEATTLE – Today marks a major achievement for Washington state caregivers in the «Fight for 15.» In-home caregivers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 775 will receive their first paychecks that reflect wages of at least $15 an hour.
Workers started earning the new wage on January 1st, with the most experienced receiving more than $18 an hour.
Desirae Hernandez gave up her job to take care of her father – and after her son was born, became a caregiver. With the pay raise, Hernandez says she won’t have to make tough decisions like choosing between medicine and car payments, and could even save to take her son on a trip.
«He said, ‘Mom, I know we’re not rich with money right now – we are rich with love – but one day when we get rich with money, can we go to Disneyland?’ And so, that’s one of things that I’m hopeful for [with] this raise – to save a little bit of money to do something like that with him,» says Hernandez.
SEIU 775, the State of Washington and individual providers agreed to a contract in 2017 to raise workers’ wages every six months for two years. The union represents more than 45,000 long-term caregivers in the Evergreen State and Montana.
Hernandez says fair compensation is crucial for keeping people in this much-needed profession.
«It’s hard to get enough people to be able to do this job because they could be making more money somewhere else,» says Hernandez. “And that’s sad, because it’s going to end up costing people dignity and our state so much more money if we can’t keep this profession filled with certified people.»
The Fight for 15 has swept the nation since New York fast-food workers in 2012 demanded living wages. Since then, 22 million workers across the country have secured $68 million dollars in wages, according to the National Employment Law Project.
SeaTac and Seattle were among the first cities to adopt $15-an-hour minimum wages.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service — WA
Home care workers at SEIU 775 have worked long and hard for wage reforms that have benefited other workers for years
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEATTLE (Jan. 31, 2019) — In-home caregivers represented by SEIU 775 are reaching a milestone on Feb. 1 – the first paychecks when all caregivers are paid at least $15 an hour.
Caregivers have been at the forefront of the movement to establish a $15 minimum wage in SeaTac, Seattle, and across the United States. Since SeaTac passed a $15 minimum-wage measure, 22 million workers nationwide have seen $68 billion in wage increases (National Employment Law Project: “Impact of the Fight for $15: $68 billion in Raises, 22 Million Workers”) thanks to local and state minimum-wage increases.
“We’ve been marching, rallying, and lobbying for this for years. I’m proud that caregivers now have a starting wage of $15 an hour,” said SEIU 775 President Sterling Harders.
Under union contracts negotiated between SEIU 775 and Washington State and private home care agencies, the starting wage for thousands of in-home caregivers increased to $15 an hour as of Jan. 1, 2019, which will be reflected on their Feb. 1 paychecks. Union-represented home care aides have a wage scale based on experience, and the most experienced caregivers with advanced training will earn more than $18 an hour.
Many caregivers gave up higher-paid work to take care of an elderly parent or child with a disability, so this increase not only compensates caregivers more fairly, but also ensures a decent quality of life for families who may have lost the income of their primary wage-earner.
“It’s a situation any of us could find ourselves in, so Washingtonians should feel good knowing that when our families face difficult times, a trained, dedicated caregiver will be there for us,” said Harders.
SEIU 775 represents more than 45,000 long-term care workers providing quality in-home care, nursing home care and adult day health services in Washington State and Montana. Our mission is to unite the strength of all working people and our families, to improve our lives and lead the way to a more just and humane world.