Home care initiative wins voter approval

By Rebecca Cook

Associated Press

SEATTLE – Washington state home care workers will have new rules and perhaps a new union, after voters today passed an initiative to regulate at-home care.

Initiative 775 on today’s ballots will establish minimum standards for workers who take care of elderly and disabled clients at home, and will let those workers unionize to get better pay.

I-775 was winning with 65 percent of the vote, with about a quarter of the votes counted.

“Any little bit of help we can get is needed,” said Lillian Lathrum of Bothell, who takes care of her disabled husband at home. She voted for the initiative.

The state pays independent home care workers $7.68 an hour. Elderly and disabled people hire them, often through classifieds ads, to do work ranging from light housekeeping to helping clients bathe and use the bathroom.

I-775 will create a nine-member Home Care Quality Authority appointed by the governor. The board will establish minimum qualifications, provide training, recruit workers, and maintain a referral list for clients.

The workers may unionize and bargain with the authority for wages and benefits. Union groups contributed 99 percent of the more than $1 million raised by the I-775 campaign.

Advocates for the disabled are concerned the initiative will give too much power to the unions and the workers, and not enough to the disabled and elderly clients.

Although the initiative bans strikes and guarantees employers the right to hire and fire their own helpers, critics fear unionization could lead to elderly and disabled people left without care or stuck with caretakers they don’t like.

Gov. Gary Locke at first opposed the initiative, saying it could make the state vulnerable to more lawsuits. But he changed his mind and gave I-775 his support after initiative sponsors assured him they would work with lawmakers and the attorney general’s office to revise the liability section of the measure.

The initiative will cost about $3.6 million next year, and $6.8 million for the 2003-2005 budget cycle. That’s just for setting up the board and registering, recruiting and training workers.

If the unionized workers, as expected, demand a better wage, the initiative would cost a lot more. The Senate Ways and Means Committee staff said each additional dollar in wages would cost the state $38 million per year.

The pay increase would have to be approved by the Legislature, which is already grappling with a possible budget shortfall of $1 billion.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

People look out onto Mountain Loop Mine from the second floor hallway of Fairmount Elementary on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Mining company ordered to stop work next to school south of Everett

After operating months without the right paperwork, OMA Construction applied for permits last week. The county found it still violates code.

Snohomish County Jail. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Arlington woman arrested in 2005 case of killed baby in Arizona airport

Annie Sue Anderson, 51, has been held in the Snohomish County Jail since December. She’s facing extradition.

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)
‘I’m stuck in the trees’: 911 call recounts plane crash near Paine Field

Asad Ali was coming in for a landing in a Cessna 150 when he crashed into woods south of Mukilteo. Then he called 911 — for 48 minutes.

Everett
Snohomish County likely to feel more like winter, beginning Monday

Get ready for a mix of rain and snow this week, along with cooler temperatures.

The Nimbus Apartments are pictured on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County has the highest rent in the state. Could this bill help?

In one year, rent for the average two-bedroom apartment in Snohomish County went up 20%. A bill seeks to cap any increases at 7%.

A Snohomish County no trespassing sign hangs on a fence surrounding the Days Inn on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Meth cleanup at Edmonds motel-shelter made matters worse, report says

Contamination has persisted at two motels Snohomish County bought to turn into shelters in 2022. In January, the county cut ties with two cleanup agencies.

A child gets some assistance dancing during Narrow Tarot’s set on the opening night of Fisherman’s Village on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at Lucky Dime in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Drive-By Truckers, Allen Stone headline 2024 Fisherman’s Village lineup

Big names and local legends alike are coming to downtown Everett for the music festival from May 16 to 18.

Sen. Patty Murray attends a meeting at the Everett Fire Department’s Station 1 on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Sen. Murray seeks aid for Snohomish County’s fentanyl, child care crises

The U.S. senator visited Everett to talk with local leaders on Thursday, making stops at the YMCA and a roundtable with the mayor.

Anthony Boggess
Arlington man sentenced for killing roommate who offered shelter

Anthony Boggess, 33, reported hearing the voices of “demons” the night he strangled James Thrower, 65.

Brenda Mann Harrison
Taking care of local news is best done together

The Herald’s journalism development director offers parting thoughts.

Lake Serene in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service)
How will climate change affect you? New tool gives an educated guess

The Climate Vulnerability Tool outlines climate hazards in Snohomish County — and it may help direct resources.

Ken Florczak, president of the five-member board at Sherwood Village Mobile Home community on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
How Mill Creek mobile home residents bought the land under their feet

At Sherwood Village, residents are now homeowners. They pay a bit more each month to keep developers from buying their property.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.