The union that represents about 25,000 home care providers statewide says the state is trying to keep $10 million that should be spent on its members.
For the past three rounds of contract negotiations, Service Employees International Union Local 775 and Gov. Chris Gregoire’s team have gone to arbitration to resolve their negotiations for a two-year contract.
But lawmakers grappling with a recession shelved the agreement ordered by an examiner last fall. Other union contracts that offered raises to state workers and college employees were also turned down. Most unions have since reached no-raise deals, but Local 775 is still at the bargaining table.
“It’s not going particularly well, and the state basically wants to steal an additional $10 million from health care workers beyond what the Legislature already cut, which is ridiculous,” said Adam Glickman, vice president of the local and its spokesman.
Last fall, the examiner in the case declared that home care workers would lose the equivalent of $10 million in work hours, but the savings would be used to boost their base pay, Glickman said. When the Legislature opted not to fund the contract, the $10 million remained, he said.
The governor’s Office of Financial Management didn’t elaborate on the details of bargaining Wednesday.
“We are still in negotiations with SEIU 775 and have a meeting scheduled with them Monday. We are still hopeful we can reach agreement,” said spokesman Glenn Kuper.
Glickman said the $10 million should be used to offset cost increases in health insurance — administrated by a private contractor — for his members. The state wants to fold it into the larger social services budget, he said.
“Let’s use it to mitigate some of the harm the Legislature did. Let’s prevent home care workers from losing their health care,” he said.