Better pay pending for homecare workers

Caregivers employed through the state of Washington are close to getting pay raises and higher minimum wages under terms of a new homecare contract.

SEIU 775 announced Oct. 2 that its members ratified their 2019-21 pact with the state. Union leaders said the tentative deal will improve conditions for a combined 45,000 state-paid homecare providers and caregivers at private homecare agencies that contract with Medicaid, 45,000 Washington caregivers will be impacted.

The new contract, which still must be funded by the Legislature during its 2019 session (which starts in January), includes wage increases of at least 8 percent for all state-paid caregivers over the two years of the contract, a minimum hourly wage of $16.75 by June 2021 (with a top hourly wage of $20 for workers with advanced training), money to cover caregivers’ healthcare, funding for worker-safety measures such as slip-resistant shoes, full funding for a statewide caregiver job-matching app (, training for working with clients with behavioral health problems, and an increase to the caregiver retirement fund. The latter is the first of its kind in the nation

SEIU 775 president Sterling Harders said the contract ensures “a stable, quality homecare workforce” by minimizing turnover through its provisions for healthcare, retirement “and a living wage.”

 â€œThis contract gives me and my fellow members security,” said Darryl Johnson, a caregiver from Auburn who was on the union’s bargaining team. “We all want to be able to say we feel appreciated after a long day on the job, we all believe that being a caregiver is a title worthy of dignity and respect, and this contract makes that clear.”