Published: January 24, 2022

As the 2022 election cycle begins to heat up, we’d like to share information on SEIU 503’s endorsement process. For our union of 72,000 Oregon workers, the outcomes of this year’s races will have immense importance to our members. Electing pro-worker champions is essential to our ability to do our jobs safely with fair compensation for our work. Here’s how we make our endorsement decisions. 

SEIU 503’s member-driven political endorsement process utilizes the CAPE Council, our political action committee elected by CAPE contributors, to research and evaluate candidates before making recommendations to our Board of Directors who make the ultimate decision.  

Our process, which is outlined below, is done in partnership with our sister union, Local 49. Our members lead the process for races that impact our workplaces, such as the Oregon Legislature, and 49 members lead the process for races that impact their workplaces, such as the City of Portland. The process is already starting, and our endorsements will be made in the first quarter of the year. 

For those districts or offices where our union plans to make an endorsement, all candidates who meet our criteria are invited to participate, regardless of party affiliation. The only exceptions are: For all levels of elected office, incumbents seeking our endorsement who have been deemed “champions” by supporting us in bargaining, policy, and/or legislation do not need to go through our process again and candidates challenging champion incumbents will not be able to seek our endorsement. Additionally, any candidate who does not support core and fundamental issues like the right to join a union and collectively bargain cannot receive SEIU’s endorsement.   

Here is an outline of SEIU Oregon’s 2022 endorsement process: 

Gubernatorial Candidates 

  • Complete a written questionnaire that is acceptable to members 
  • Participate in an interview with SEIU 503 and 49 members  
  • Participate in a Walk-a-Day with SEIU 503 or 49 members (this is shadowing a member to gain a better understanding of what a typical day may be like for an SEIU Oregon worker) 

All Other Candidates:  

Champions: These are elected officials who participated in organizing and bargaining campaigns, who supported our contracts, and who championed and supported our priorities. These candidates do not have to go through an SEIU endorsement process again, unless they are running for a different office. 

Supporters: These are elected officials who have generally supported our agenda and our members, but perhaps voted against a priority bill or policy. These candidates will have a meeting with SEIU members. 

All Others: These are first-time candidates or elected officials who have never sought our endorsement before, or who have actively opposed our union’s priorities. They have to do our full process, which includes: 

  • Complete a questionnaire that is acceptable to members 
  • Participate in an interview with SEIU 503 and 49 members 
  • Participate in a training led by SEIU 503 and 49 members 

Executive Director Melissa Unger explains SEIU 503’s candidate endorsement process