In 2001, a measure appeared on the November ballot called the Washington In-Home Care Services Initiative (ballot measure 775). This created the Home Care Quality Authority which would serve as the employer of record for unionization. However, the actual language on the ballot didn't say anything about unionizing or that this would lead to unionization of PCAs. The voters were merely asked:
"Initiative Measure No. 775 concerns long-term in-home care services. This measure would create a “home care quality authority” to establish qualifications, standards, accountability, training, referral and employment relations for publicly funded individual providers of in-home care services to elderly and disabled adults.
Should this measure be enacted into law?"
This ballot initiative was led by the President of SEIU Healthcare 775W, David Rolf.
Shortly after the ballot initiative was passed, SEIU petitioned for an election and won.
SEIU has negotiated several contracts with the state which included some health care benefits for some of the PCAs covered by the contract. However, it has had some difficulty getting at least one of those contracts funded. After negotiating a contract with a raise the Governor (whom SEIU supported) refused to include the money in her budget to the legislature. SEIU filed a lawsuit and lost. Here is a summary of that decision.
In 2009, the Washington legislature passed SB 5547 which eliminated a non-union program and forced family members caring for disabled relatives to participate in the union program. (See video on the right hand side of the screen) http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2009-10/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Passed%20Legislature/5547.PL.pdf
In 2011 the Home Care Quality Authority, which was the "employer" was dissolved and the union began to negotiate directly with the state.
In the most recent contract, the state pays the union $2.60 for every hour they pay PCAs. The union has formed a "trust" that this money is sent to. The "trust" gets to decide how this money is spent, who gets health insurance, what the requirements are to qualify and what the co-pays are. Not all PCAs are receiving health insurance through the union. It's unclear how many are actually receiving the benefit.
In 2008, SEIU sponsored a ballot initiative that required the PCAs they represent to have 75 hours of training. SEIU actually used money from the PCAs they represent (almost one million dollars) to push this through. It passed and PCAs in Washington now have to get 75 hours of one-size-fits-all union training. Employers with disabilities wind up having to spend extra time retraining PCAs to accommodate their individual needs.
As if that wasn't enough, SEIU sponsored another ballot initiative in Washington, I-1163, requiring the PCAs they represent get approved training after the state legislature refused to appropriate money to fund training from the 2008 initiative. SEIU spent over $1.3 million dollars to push this through and they were successful.
Dues: Up to $90 per month
Fair share: Yes
Health Insurance: Yes, limited
Contract: Yes, Active