In her green minivan, Angelica Villa navigates the farm roads north of Bellingham like a seasoned tour guide. She points out a cannery, a potato plant and miles of berry fields. Villa previously worked at many of these places and she rattles off story after story about harassment on the job.
Washington State’s Developmental Disabilities Administration helps people with disabilities like autism, cerebral palsy and down syndrome find work. The DDA serves nearly 9,000 adults over the age of 21.
Ross Reynolds interviews Dr. Pat Brown, director of the University of Washington’s employment program. Ross also talks with Doug Wilson, a sales manager at Copiers Northwest, who employs people with developmental disabilities and Shawn Christensen, a man with cerebral palsy who works at Regal Cinemas in Renton.
Nationwide, the percentage of workers who are in unions has dropped to around 11 percent according to January report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s lowest rate in nearly a century. But the Service Employees International Union has been bucking the trend in recent decades – it’s the fastest growing union in the United States.
Since 1996, 1.2 million workers have joined SEIU nationally. Today, SEIU national represents 2.1 million. Here in Washington state the SEUI has six locals with more than 100,000 members, up from about 40,000 in 2001.
The union represents nurses, child care workers, public school employees and janitors. Plus, Local 775 is the biggest, with around 43,000 members who are long-term care workers, home health aides, and nursing home aides.
Ross Reynolds talks with David Rolf, president of the Seattle-based Local 775 of the Service Employees International Union for health-care workers.