Caregiving is in Crisis. This is not news to anyone in need of a caregiver.
One would think that the Department of Social and Health Services and Advocates would be responsive to this crisis. I have found the opposite to be true. This past year I was witness to an incredible waste of time, energy and money by the Department denying an appeal from a caregiver who only wanted to do her job for her disabled employer.
The problems are multi-faceted and intertwined but stem from DSHS giving power to SEIU 775 to control training and access to those interested in becoming a Home Care Aide (HCA) in Washington State. SEIU 775 has removed choice for individuals.
There is history to the problems:
Initiative 1029 (2008) – Washington Long-Term Care Initiative
Initiative 1163 (2011) – Washington Long-Term Care Initiative
Quotes from one of the many articles written regarding I-1163 –
Voters, don’t be fooled. I-1163 represents the wrong priorities. Mandatory caregiver training and criminal background checks are already required by law. I-1163 costs $80 million in the next two years and benefits just one interest group — Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
This SEIU-sponsored measure claims to protect vulnerable adults. What it really does is force taxpayers to pay for the watered-down training of union members, with inexperienced and uneducated trainers managed by SEIU, eliminating the current training conducted by medical professionals and credentialed educators — who are licensed by the state.
How does SEIU propose to pay the $80 million price tag of I-1163? SEIU’s selfish, cavalier approach to the current budget crisis is unconscionable. Whose medical services will be eliminated to pay for I-1163? Whose school lunches do they intend to cut? Whose taxes do they intend to raise?
Taking Sides – The Herald
Then came the issues of Initiative 1501 in 2016. Was the motive behind this Initiative for the benefit of SEIU 775 or the people receiving care? It’s pretty clear to me that this Initiative had nothing to do with better training or access to care.
SEIU 775 was angry that the Freedom Foundation was informing Home Care Aids of their right to a choice – if they wanted to pay union dues or not. Because of this SEIU 775 developed the initiative 1501 and promoted it as an initiative to increase penalties for crimes against vulnerable individuals – sounds good to me – but one needed to look behind what sounded good and understand the intention behind the initiative – to gain full control of access to care for vulnerable individuals by SEIU 775.
Intent—2017 c 4 §§ 8, 10, and 11 (Initiative Measure No. 1501): “It is the intent of part three of this act to protect seniors and vulnerable individuals from identity theft and other financial crimes by preventing the release of public records that could be used to victimize them. Sensitive personal information about in-home caregivers for vulnerable populations is protected because its release could facilitate identity crimes against seniors, vulnerable individuals, and other vulnerable populations that these caregivers serve.” [2017 c 4 § 7 (Initiative Measure No. 1501, approved November 8, 2016).]
Why is it that only the Home Care Aides License information on the Department of Health Professional License Registry is prohibited from being viewed unless one knows the exact name that the HCA is registered under? Why not restrict EVERY type Healthcare License/Certificate if the real reason is to protect vulnerable individuals? HCAs are not the only people involved in the care of this population – but they are the only healthcare professional that is required to be part of the union SEIU 775.
Debate on SEIU’s intents
SEIU 775 is a union that represents longterm care workers, who provide care services in-home, in nursing homes, and adult day health services. The union sponsored Initiative 775.
The Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit free-market think tank, believed Initiative 1501 was an attempt to stop the organization from accessing the SEIU’s list of unionized caregivers to tell them union dues are elective in light the U.S. Supreme Court case Harris v. Quinn. Because the measure includes language stating “neither the state nor any of its agencies shall release sensitive personal information of… in-home caregivers for vulnerable populations,” the Freedom Foundation contended that access to the SEIU’s list of caregivers would be prohibited.
The United States Supreme Court decided Harris v. Quinn in June 2014. In a five-to-four decision, the court struck down an Illinois law authorizing the SEIU to collect a “representation fee” from their in-home health workers’ wages to cover services the union is legally required to provide. According to the majority opinion, the law violated workers’ First Amendment speech rights to not provide financial support to collective bargaining. 
Through a public records request, the Freedom Foundation obtained a list of workers and encouraged them to stop paying fees to the SEIU. Adam Glickman, SEIU 775 secretary-treasurer, said his union was sustaining membership in 2015. He stated, ‘It’s hard to find other workers who aren’t CEOs who have seen their wages double.” Glickman also called the Freedom Foundation “radically anti-union.” The Freedom Foundation, however, contends SEIU 775 has not done enough to inform their workers about Harris v. Quinn.
SEIU 775 attempted to stop the Freedom Foundation from obtaining a list of its members in court. The union was unsuccessful, and the Freedom Foundation obtained a list of members in September 2016. Glickman said the conflict had more to do with members “protecting their clients and protecting their own personal privacy and security from any number of organizations” than Harris v. Quinn. Glickman claimed his union’s workers “wanted to take action to protect their privacy and the privacy of their clients.” He also said language protecting caregivers’ “sensitive personal information” was included in Initiative 1501 because “there’s a loophole where any of these scams or telemarketers could get the names and contact information of the in-home caregivers”
In researching this issue – I was astounded by the amount of money SEIU 775 raised and spent. I was not surprised by how many applicants failed to take the certification test – even though the Department representative on the appeal claimed there were not any problems and almost all applicants completed the certification. Data from the Department of Health tells another story – to be continued. . .