Protecting hours, higher wages are top priorities for our next contract

As we entered bargaining this year, our union surveyed members to determine the top priorities for our next contract. Thousands of homecare and personal support workers responded, highlighting the key issues that we need to win this year.  

The results are clear. We need to protect consumer hours and services from cuts, win a wage increase, hold the line on benefits, and win access to a retirement benefit.


What is your top priority for bargaining in 2019?

 

Results are from the 2019 bargaining survey, conducted between December 2018 and February 2019.

This is what our bargaining team is doing to address these critical issues.

Hours and services
The hours a consumer can receive and the availability of in-home support services are determined, primarily, by the budget for the Aging and People with Disabilities program at DHS. This program is currently facing a 5% cut, which could lead to hours reductions or people being cut off from services. We can’t let that happen.

Our union is working in coalition with other groups to pass a $2 billion tax on large corporations, which will fund education, the largest pot of money in the budget, freeing up resources to stop cuts to DHS. Winning this revenue increase is critical to all of our members’ priorities. It’s our top priority.

Wage increase
Last week, our bargaining team proposed two, 5% wage increases, effective on October 1, 2019 and October 1, 2020. We were very clear that any wage increase must not come with an hours cut. It must be a real wage increase that helps us keep up with the rising cost of living.

Hold the line of benefits
The state is not proposing any reductions in benefits for homecare and personal support workers, so we do not anticipate any problems keeping our benefits intact.

Access to a retirement benefit
In our first proposal to the state, we suggested that effective May 15, 2020, workers will begin to receive a employer-funded contribution to the Oregon Saves Retirement Program equal to 5% of your paycheck.

73.2% of members report having no retirement savings. Our union has existed for 20 years, and that means there are SEIU members who have been doing homecare for two decades without retirement savings. That is simply unacceptable and it’s time we do something about it.

Fixing the state’s payroll system

Another top priority in bargaining will be pushing the state to address its out-of-date payroll system. 35.4% of members report having received their paycheck late due to an error by the state. This kind of systemic problem does not happen in other jobs. It’s unacceptable, and fixing it is a top priority. Our proposal includes penalties for the State if they are late with our paychecks.

 

Take action

Through our union, we have the opportunity to sit at the table with DHS and make these improvements. If you’d like to get involved, please consider coming to Salem to fight for revenue and a fair contract. Register here.

We need to show up in a big way on May 20 and send a message to the people in power that it’s time to invest in Oregon’s care providers! Then, our bargaining team can carry that momentum into changes that will have a real impact on our lives.