Disability Groups Split on In-Home Services Initiative
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion
Daily Express Email News Service.
OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON, Oct 10, 2001 --In four weeks, voters in the state of Washington will
decide on an initiative that, its supporters say, would "help seniors and
people with disabilities live with independence and dignity in their own
The ballot initiative, called I-775, is supported by a coalition of
several -- but by no means all -- disability and senior rights groups in the
state. Supporters say the measure would empower people who receive in-home
personal assistance services by establishing a type of clearinghouse to
connect them with a registry of trained service providers that have passed
The initiative would require performance audits of such providers with
standards established by a consumer-oriented board.
I-775 would also give those service providers the right to unite to
negotiate for higher wages and benefits, in an effort to reduce the high
rate of turnover and increase the quality of such services.
This last provision, which is proving to be the most controversial, has
generated the support of several labor unions.
That has left many advocates for community living in a confusing position.
While few would argue against higher pay for care-givers, many who have
struggled for years to close state-run institutions have found a labor
union -- the Washington Federation of State Employees -- to be their
strongest opponent. And that union in the past has fought to increase state
employee wages and oppose community living initiatives.
And even though I-775 would not allow workers to strike, one concern is that
there are no penalties in place if providers decide to do so. Some worry
that individual service recipients, who already have few options available,
could have even less power because providers would have collective
ADAPT of the Great Northwest, along with the Washington State Labor Council
and Service Employees International Union are among the groups supporting
The argument against the initiative was authored by the Washington
Protection and Advocacy System.
Two of the state's largest advocacy groups, the Arc of Washington and AARP
of Washington, have decided not to sign on in support of the measure.
For more information:
The text of I-775 is available on-line from the Washington State Election
Information website as a downloadable PDF file.
Visit the site of
Washingtonians for Quality Home Care
The Oct. 10 Seattle Post-Intelligencer on the union
connection behind I-775.
More D. R. Nation
Back to home page