Legislature should suspend health-care worker training measure
The Legislature should suspend Initiative 1029 to save $5 million and repeal the initiative next year and replace it with something better.
IN 2008 this page opposed Initiative 1029. This measure, written and promoted by the Service Employees International Union, requires all new home-health adult family home workers to take about 45 hours more of training than the 30 they already take, and pass a state test. We said the bill was inflexible and would cause problems — and it has.
For workers paid with state money, the bill requires the state to pay for training.
In her budget proposal, Gov. Chris Gregoire left out the $29 million extra this would cost. Legislators put back $5 million — money the state has to take by making deeper cuts in other programs.
None of the $5 million goes to train private-sector workers who are mostly not organized by the SEIU. The same requirements, however, apply to them. Their employers are supposed to pay, or the workers are, and if a worker hired after Jan. 1 is not certified by 150 days, he or she is supposed to be fired and not rehired.
The date approaches — and the training is mostly not ready. Only three community colleges have offered the 75-hour course, with the lowest tuition being $550.
The first discharge notices have now gone out, and the employers are screaming. The SEIU says it is the employers' fault for doing nothing, and too bad for them.
This is the sort of mess that happens when one economic interest — in this case, a union — writes a law for itself and runs it as a ballot measure. The measure was advertised as something to make health care safer, and the public voted for it. Not one in a thousand voters understood the details of it.
The Legislature should suspend I-1029 and remove the $5 million from the budget.
Next year, I-1029 should be repealed and replaced with a new law vetted through public testimony and written by legislators, not by the SEIU.
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