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Washington State Home Care Workers Rally for Wage Increase

February 14, 2013

Washington State home care workers demonstrated for a wage increase at the state capitol in Olympia on February 7.

Approximately 300 workers gathered to ask lawmakers for an annual 50-cent raise in their hourly wages over the next two years.

Personal assistance in the state’s Medicaid programs can be provided by agency-employed personal care aides (PCAs) or participant-directed PCAs.

The rally was organized by SEIU Healthcare 775NW, which represents the workers.

A recent SEIU 775NW report found that in 2011, 69 percent of home care workers lived in households that earned less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

“It’s hard to pay our bills,” home care worker Camila Lambert said. “We have to choose between rent, medical, or [feeding] our family.”

Washington home care workers have seen their take-home pay decline sharply in recent years. They have not had a raise in four years; meanwhile, legislators have voted to cut their hours every year since 2008.

A January poll showed widespread support for a wage increase among Washington residents. Strong majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents said they favor a raise for home care workers.

— by Matthew Ozga

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