Braun: governor to sign costly legislation stripping rights from home care workers

The governor is scheduled to sign legislation today contracting out employment of the state’s 35,000 individual home care providers, which will cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, take away workers’ rights and hide negotiations from public disclosure, according to Sen. John Braun. The bill privatizing management of Washington’s home care workers came at the request of SEIU 775 as a workaround to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming an individual’s right to choose whether or not to be represented.

“Home care providers perform incredibly difficult work most often as a labor of love to help some of our most vulnerable citizens. Their rights should not take a back seat to a giveaway to powerful special interests,” said Braun, R-Centralia, who serves as ranking minority member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “For years the governor has fought back against any attempt to contract out state services even when it would save taxpayers money or improve the quality of service. In this case it dramatically increases costs to the state, while taking money out of the pockets of workers who do not want to participate.”

The state Department of Social and Health Services currently serves as the employer for Washington’s individual provider home care workers. According to DSHS 70 percent of these caregivers do so for their own family members who are most often elderly parents or children with developmental disabilities. Following the 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. Quinn, they are no longer forced to join a union or pay an agency fee.

“The governor recently touted his record on government transparency, which runs counter to this action,” said Braun. “Even though this legislation opposes two of his ideological platforms I do not expect he will veto it since it came at the request of his administration and from a major campaign donor.”

Projections show that creating the third-party entity to provide employment management services will cost taxpayers $26 million per budget cycle for no expanded or improved service.