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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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Federal funds boost Northeast high-speed EV charging network; the Heat Dome remains the top story over more than half the nation; Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in TX face health disparities; Groups debunk claims of 'skyrocketing' numbers of non-citizen voters.

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U.S. House passes the National Defense Authorization Act, with hard-right amendments. Political scientists say they worry a second Trump presidency could 'break' American democracy, while farmers voice concerns about the Farm Bill.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

At-Home Caregivers Say It's 'Time for $20' in WA

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Friday, February 18, 2022   

At-home caregivers in Washington state have experienced a boost in wages to weather the COVID-19 pandemic, and a new campaign is urging lawmakers to make the pay increase permanent.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 775's "Time for $20" campaign calls on lawmakers to raise hourly wages for workers who care for people in their homes and long-term care facilities in this year's budget.

Julie Sparkman, a home-care aide who looks after children who mostly have underlying health conditions, was diagnosed with cancer last year.

"There was no time to put off what needed done and if it hadn't been for hazard pay, I don't know how I would have kept living indoors," Sparkman recounted. "Honestly. I took every paycheck that I got and paid a month's worth of rent because I knew I would be out of work for some time."

Hazard pay put about an extra $3 per hour into caregivers' pockets. The temporary increase was set to expire at the end of 2021 for individual providers, but SEIU Local 775 got it extended through March. With the session scheduled to end in March, state lawmakers are beginning to craft the budget.

Sparkman explained fortunately the cancer was caught in time, in what she called the best of a bad scenario, but her situation is not unique.

"I know that there are other people walking around right now in a scenario similar to that for whom immediate action will be the only thing that saves their lives," Sparkman asserted.

Sparkman added workers needs to be at their best, so they can best care for the state's most vulnerable population.

"It translates into safer clients, which is why our jobs exist in the first place," Sparkman contended. "And if we can't take care of ourselves, then how are we taking care of anyone else?"

Disclosure: SEIU 775 contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Health Issues, and Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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