WA At-Home Caregivers Stand Firm in Contract Negotiations
Monday, February 1, 2021
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- At-home caregivers for people with disabilities and older Washingtonians are holding the line in budget talks with the state.
Individual provider members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 775 are negotiating their contract for the next two years. They don't want to be swept up in potential budget cuts during the pandemic.
Dora Poqui, caregiver and union member, said the state contracts workers for certain hours, but they often provide care around the clock, especially if they're helping out a family member.
"You're limited with the hours they do contract you for and sometimes, the second job, you're not able to work out of the house because these clients that we take care of, they require that hands-on," Poqui explained.
Lawmakers have pushed back because of the unusual budget year during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state is looking at a $3.3 billion shortfall through 2023, according to a forecast from last year.
SEIU 775 members' top priorities in contract negotiations include affordable health-care premiums, no-cost personal protective equipment and ensuring there's language barring harassment, abuse and discrimination at work.
Poqui believes agreeing to their contract proposal would be more affordable than moving their patients to nursing homes.
"The state is saying they can't afford to give us raises, right? But yet if they are put into a facility, the facility requires that 24-hour care," Poqui argued. "They're going to be spending more money at the facilities than what we're asking for."
Poqui also noted wages need to keep up with the cost of living.
"We're already at a point where the cost of living has gone up," Poqui maintained. "I mean, everything's so high right now and then for us to get any hours taken or cut would really affect us."
The workers' contract expires at the end of June.
Reporting by Washington News Service funded in part by SEIU Local 775.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
A bill moving through the Kentucky Legislature would make fluoride treatment in drinking water optional for local municipalities. House Bill 141 …
Most teenagers eagerly anticipate turning 16 to start driving and 21 for other milestones, but the significance of obtaining the right to vote at 18 …
New York state lawmakers have appointed members to the Community Commission on Reparations Remedies, created through legislation Gov. Kathy Hochul …
A new report argued many charitable foundations need to examine the origin of their wealth and repair harms done. The National Committee for …
A proposed urban reforestation program in Massachusetts aims to help cities mitigate the effects of climate change. Legislation would create a state …
A Wyoming nonprofit is helping single mothers climb out of poverty by connecting them with the training and support they need to step into and succeed…
Ahead of Super Tuesday, a new poll finds a majority of Mainers support replacing the Electoral College system with a national popular vote. More …
Even though March is barely underway, parents of Wisconsin kids are being encouraged to plan for summer reading activities - especially if their …