May 04 2012
Answer Kristen’s call.
Posted by: Kevin B. Gilnack, Campaign Manager
On May Day this week, members of The Caring Force sent many powerful stories about how valuable the work of human services is. But there was another clear theme in many of the stories we heard: it's getting harder and harder to continue working in human services.
Kristen from Everett wrote:
I have worked in mental health for 18 years this August. I am a single mother of 2 teenage boys. We are domestic abuse survivors.
It is extremely hard managing life on the salary that I receive; I believe I've only gotten a raise five times since I started. I don't even live check to check, but negative check to check. Often I am behind on paying at least one utility bill and my rent keeps going up. The cost of living has become out of control, gas prices keep soaring and yet I remain at the same salary on and on and on.
I don' t understand why the government doesn't address the fact that those who work in mental health are highly underpaid. We provide such a wonderful service to those in need. I feel good about what I do at the end of the day and often one can't say that about their job. I've stayed in this profession as long as I have because I love what I do, but it is really getting to the point now that I may no longer be able to continue in this field.
There is a lot of turnover in the mental health field because of the salaries. This field loses a lot of great workers and i'ts not only unfair to the employees to be highly underpaid, but it's also unfair to those we serve. To constantly have to change the clinician you are seeing doesn't help in the improvement that the clients are in need of. It's not fair for them to have to "start over" multiple times when staff changes.
There needs to be a big change in what people in mental health are paid. Not only for the employees who very much deserve to have a better quality of life financially, but also for the people we serve and their quality of life. It is my hope something changes, and very soon as I don't know how much longer I can remain in a field I love highly underpaid. My children deserve better than this and I will soon be trying to send my oldest off to college. I'm fearful that I won't have the ability to do so if I remain at my current salary. So as you can see the salaries for mental health workers don't only affect the workers themselves, but also their families and those we serve. Something's got to give and fast!
We agree: something has to give, and and our friend in the legislature agree. One of our major legislative champions is standing up for human services direct care workers, and we need your help to secure additional support.
Senator Karen Spilka is sending a letter to Senate President Therese Murray and Senate Ways & Means Chairman Stephen Brewer, asking them to include a Salary Reserve in the Senate's budget proposal.
We appreciate the efforts of Senator Spilka, and we hope her colleagues in the Senate will join her in supporting the Salary Reserve! You can help right now:
- Email your senator and ask them to support a Salary Reserve to improve salaries for human services workers and sign-on to Sen. Spilka's letter.
- Follow-up your email with a phone call to ensure they get the message! Be sure to directly ask your senator to co-sign Senator Karen Spilka's letter to Senate leadership expressing support for a Salary Reserve for human services workers. You can look up their phone number at www.wheredoivotema.com.
I don't need to tell you how critical human service workers are to providing quality, consistent support and empowerment to hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable neigbors. But I need your help letting somone else know.
Human service workers are in danger of facing a fifth straight year without an annaulized pay increase. Now is the time that we can use our collective power to help secure a win for about 30,000 human service workers.
Can you take a moment right now to ask your legislator to let you know if they've co-sponsored the amendment and urge their colleagues to back it during the budget debates this week?
With an average salary of $12/hour, too many workers are forced to make the same tough choices as Kristen -- choosing bettween leaving the sector, working two jobs, or struggling to make ends meet to do this valuable work. Please join me in urging our senators to support a Salary Reserve in their upcoming budget proposal.
With your help, we can secure this win for our workers and grow the strength of our powerful new movement. Thank you for your continued advocacy on behalf of human services.