Essential home care and public service workers of SEIU Virginia 512 testified before members of the Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees at four virtual budget hearings across Virginia today, days before the 2022 Virginia General Assembly session officially begins. Union members called on the General Assembly to protect the progress they’ve made with essential workers over the past two years and to strive toward making Virginia the best state for workers.
“Together, over the past two years, we’ve made historic progress,” said David Broder, SEIU Virginia 512 President. “We made it easier for working people to thrive by expanding collective bargaining rights, raising the minimum wage and fighting wage theft. We made it easier for people to exercise their right to vote safely. We began to tackle systemic racism. And we took steps to ensure that immigrants to Virginia would be welcomed and supported. Is our work done? Of course not. But we have made tremendous strides, and we must protect our progress.”
“Sometimes I have no money left over for groceries or household supplies,” said Joyce Barnes, a Richmond-based home care worker, resident of Henrico County, and union member of SEIU Virginia 512. “Meanwhile, my rent is going up. Just days before New Year’s, my daughter gave birth to two beautiful babies, Payton and Aman. And I want to be there to see them grow up. I’m here to ask you to protect our progress. Protect our life-saving Home Care program. In this year’s budget, please fund Home Care for all older adults and people with disabilities who need it to live with dignity. And please fund a living wage and paid leave for all Home Care workers, and for all Virginians.”
“During the pandemic, essential public service workers like me and my colleagues have been on the front lines of keeping our communities healthy and safe,” said Tammie Wondong, Prince William County resident, Fairfax County employee, and the Fairfax Chapter President of SEIU Virginia 512. “We have provided vital health care, child care, transportation, sanitation, mental health services, and so much more. Protect our progress for Virginia’s working families by protecting our essential collective bargaining rights, the improvements we have made on raising the minimum wage, fighting wage theft, and so much more.”
“I care for a young man in his thirties who is on the low end of the autism spectrum. He has Crohn's disease, pica, screws in both feet, and has seizures,” said Ebone Newton, a home care worker, Norfolk resident, and union member of SEIU Virginia 512. “With my help, he is able to live as close to a normal life as any other young man. I love being a home care worker because receiving quality care at home by personal care attendants like myself helps keep families intact. Let’s continue to invest in a quality home care system for all Virginians by raising reimbursement rates so that we can continue to make Virginia the best state for working families.”
“Let’s protect our progress for Virginia’s working families by protecting essential collective bargaining rights,” said Julius Reynolds, Loudoun County employee and the Loudoun Chapter Chair of SEIU Virginia 512. “Let’s continue to invest in essential public services and the workers like me and my colleagues who provide them. To achieve those goals, I’m here to ask you to fund the following items in this year’s budget: local government services provided by county employees like me and my co-workers, quality home care for all people with disabilities, older adults and families, and good union jobs and paid sick days for all public service workers.”
“Just two years after our last-place ranking in the Oxfam America study, we jumped from the worst state for workers to the 23rd best, while maintaining our ranking as the best state for business in multiple studies,” said Karen Conchar, the Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU Virginia 512, a Fauquier County resident, and retired Fairfax County employee. “You proved that for our economy to truly thrive, for businesses to truly succeed, that workers must have protections, fair pay, and a seat at the table. We must Protect Our Progress and continue our efforts so that Virginia is ranked as the best state for workers, as well as for businesses.”
Union members will also testify before the Fairfax and Loudoun delegations on Saturday, January 8th. SEIU members will continue to call on the General Assembly to protect our progress and fight to make Virginia the best state for workers throughout this session.
SEIU Virginia 512 represents home care providers and county employees across the Commonwealth. United by a belief in the dignity of work, SEIU Virginia 512 members advocate for policies and budgets which improve the lives of all working families.