Emergency workers at WA facility call for higher wages / Public News Service

Employees at a residential care center are calling for higher wages during their union contract negotiations.

Aegis Living is a Seattle-based company that has been in negotiations with employees of Service Employees International Union – Local 775 since March 2023.

Workers say higher pay would help retain employees.

Gurnesh Chetty, medicine manager at Aegis Ravenna in Seattle, said employees who stick around can build bonds and trust the residents they serve.

“But when you have staff that leave,” Chetty said, “the residents feel like there’s always someone new coming in to tell them what to do, and they don’t really know the residents, and that creates a conflict . it makes their lives more stressful.”

SEIU 775 says Aegis Living has increased rates for residents, but that money has not reached employees.

A spokesperson for Aegis Living said the goal is to “foster a strong and unified team environment,” and that the company is proud of its 2,700 employees, who serve 2,500 residents.

Negotiations with a mediator will continue this week.

Chetty said some of his colleagues are leaving for minimum wage jobs because the pay is comparable and the work is less stressful.

“In resident care you have to be on top of everything,” says Chetty. “If they don’t feel well, if they get sick, you have to let the nurses know so you can take them to the hospital. You have to make sure they take their medications on time. You have to make sure they Once they’ve showered you have to make sure they’re safe, they’re not carrying anything dangerous, so it’s a very risky job.’

In 2021, Aegis settled a $16 million class action lawsuit with residents of Washington and California, who alleged the company was misleading about its workforce and violated consumer protection and elder abuse laws.

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