SEIU 775 President Sterling Harders: “This bill will make the care environment safer for both caregivers and the people they care for by creating safety, prevention, and reporting standards. Caregivers in this state are at risk every single day, and we need real protections now.”
OLYMPIA, WA – Today, SEIU 775 President Sterling Harders, caregivers, agency employers, Parent Providers, and allies testified in front of the Washington state Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee in support of Senate Bill 6205 – a bill that addresses the harassment, abuse, and discrimination of caregivers.
“This bill will make the care environment safer for both caregivers and the people they care for by creating safety, prevention, and reporting standards,” said SEIU 775 President Sterling Harders. “Caregivers in this state are at risk every single day, and we need real protections now.”
SB 6205 was created with significant input from caregivers and the aging and disability rights community, including self-advocates. Caregivers from across the state urge the legislature to pass this powerful and comprehensive policy that ensures everyone can feel safe while giving and receiving care.
“I’m a Parent Provider, and I support Senate Bill 6205 addressing harassment, abuse, and discrimination of caregivers as a caregiver and as an advocate for my son,” said caregiver Melissah Watts, who cares for her son, Max, who has developmental disabilities. Max joined her at the hearing.
Caregivers typically work in isolated environments. A survey of Washington caregivers found:
- 47 percent reported experiencing verbal abuse while working
- 24 percent reported physical violence
- 12 percent reported sexual harassment (Parent Providers were not asked this question)
For caregivers, incidents of harassment, abuse and discrimination can come from anyone in the care environment – including other people residing in or visiting their client’s home, friends, family, or neighbors. But the impact is more than an immediate reaction. It affects caregivers’ health, wellbeing, and quality of care. Additionally, it leads to increased turnover among direct care workers, which can lower quality of care for clients.
Caregiver Darryl Johnson said, “A couple years ago, I was working with an elderly white woman. A couple weeks into working with her, she started to make inappropriate comments toward me. As a Black male caregiver, I was scared. I thought I was going to go to jail because of what she was saying, and no one would believe me. I stopped working with this client – but it meant I gave up a paycheck to feel safe.”
SEIU 775 testified in support of SB 6205 because:
- Everyone deserves to feel safe at work and while giving & receiving care.
- Everyone deserves to feel respected when giving & receiving care.
- Everyone wants to strengthen long-term care workforce and system in our state.
- And above all, caregivers want to provide the best quality care they can.
The bill is sponsored in the Washington state Senate by Andy Billig, 3rd District, Spokane; Annette Cleveland, 49th District, Vancouver; Steve Conway, 29th District, Tacoma; Manka Dhingra, 45th District, Redmond; David Frockt, 46th District, Seattle, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park; Karen Keiser, 33rd District, Des Moines; Mark Mullet, 5th District, Issaquah; Emily Randall, 26th District, Bremerton; Rebecca Saldaña, 37th District, Seattle; Kevin Van De Wege, 24th District, Sequim.
More information on SEIU 775’s campaign to address harassment, abuse and discrimination (HADit) is available at: seiu775.org/HADit
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.