Opinion

I-1029 a costly, needless gift to labor union

Sound Off is a public forum. Articles are selected from letters to the editor or may be written specifically for this feature. Today, Don Brunell, president of the Association of Washington Business, urges voters to reject Initiative 1029.

One of the many important lessons my parents taught me was that, if something looks to good to be true, it probably is.

That’s the case with Initiative 1029.

It sounds so good on the surface. I-1029 mandates more training, background checks, and certification for those caring for the elderly and disabled in private homes, adult family homes and assisted-living communities. Who among us doesn’t want to have qualified and trained people looking after our loved ones?

But the problem is, this initiative is unnecessary and incredibly expensive. The taxpayers will pay more than $30 million over the next two years for the state’s portion, just as lawmakers are struggling with a projected $3.2 billion budget deficit.

Families will also be forced to pay higher costs for residential care and insurance premiums.

It might be worth it if we were really going to improve care for the elderly and disabled, but I-1029 won’t do that.

Background checks are already required for all caregivers, and an independent study by Washington State University concludes that today’s caregivers are already well-trained.

In addition, the governor’s task force established to examine this issue concluded there is absolutely no evidence that the training standards proposed by the initiative would improve the actual quality of care.

This same proposal was considered by lawmakers and rejected as unnecessary, ineffective and too expensive.

A more reasonable and flexible compromise was rejected by leaders of the powerful Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 775.

Unable to convince legislators to buy their proposal, union leaders did an end run around lawmakers and mounted this initiative to go directly to the voters, who don’t have the background on this issue.

If the proposal is so expensive and the training isn’t needed, what’s going on here?

SEIU 775, which represents a third of the home care workers, has spent $900,000 to put this ill-conceived and self-serving initiative before the voters.

Why? The union wants to rewrite the rules and get paid tens of millions of state dollars to train its own members. The union already has several million dollars in its training trust, but it isn’t spending their own money, despite its claims that the need is urgent.

So what’s behind I-1029? A clue may be found in the union’s stated goal to “…secur(e) control over our industries and labor markets.”

Why is this proposal so expensive? A big part of the problem is that I-1029 calls for a very rigid, medically oriented training regimen.

The excessive training mandated by I-1029 won’t make a person a better caregiver any more than training a person to operate an 18-wheel truck would make them a better driver of their personal car.

They are simply skills that will never be used.

I-1029 will make an already critical shortage of caregivers even worse. Today, many caregivers are part-time, giving a few hours of relief each week to family members who shoulder the responsibility of caring for their loved ones.

Many of these part-time workers will simply leave their jobs rather than go through I-1029’s extensive training and certification standards.

As we struggle through the current economic crisis and taxpayers in our state face a huge budget deficit, we can’t afford to waste money creating a new state bureaucracy and imposing unnecessary training mandates that do more for their sponsors than for the people.

Hauge’s ads misleading

Sound Off is a public forum. Articles are selected from letters to the editor or may be written specifically for this feature. Today, Port Orchard resident Ron Zude takes issue with Kitsap Prosecutor Russ Hauge’s radio commercials endorsing Gov. Christine Gregoire.

As you probably know, there are radio ads playing on several stations throughout Washington featuring our Kitsap County prosecutor, Russ Hauge. Mr. Hauge is introduced with the words, “An important message from law enforcement.”

He identifies himself as the Kitsap County Prosecutor. Mr. Hauge proceeds to give his endorsement for Chris Gregoire and denounces Dino Rossi.

Mr. Hauge’s ad is misleading, which is abhorent for a law enforcement representative. His statement that all major law enforcement agencies/organizations in Washington support Chris Gregoire is also misleading.

You can see by looking a each candidates endorsements that Mr. Rossi holds more endorsements in number of actual law enforcement officers than Chris Gregoire.

I would hope that Mr. Hauge would be counseled regarding his use of office for this purpose.

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