Keeping our members up to date about the issues that affect them most is our top priority. That is why we have added a new “mini-episode” of our podcast, Stronger Together, that we are calling a “News Roundup.” We will still continue with our regular episodes, which focus on long-form conversations with our members, but we will also add News Roundups with short news broadcasts covering the most important stories for union members.
On this News Roundup, we talk about Covid-19 and what we are doing to fight for your safety on the job. We will also address what bills were at stake with the Republican shut-down of the legislative session, what’s happening with the Jackson County strike, and a reminder of the union elections! Check below the player for the entire written transcript of the episode.
Hi and welcome to our first ever NEWS ROUNDUP podcast. The first two episodes of this podcast – which I encourage everyone to check out on seiu503.org, spotify, stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts – focused on long-form stories. We love that format and will continue to bring you those episodes every month.
But in these NEWS ROUNDUPs we’re going to just give you a quick update on what’s happening. So you can get your headlines and move on with your day. We hope you like it. Stay tuned for those headlines, coming up right now!
Today, Covid-19 is on everyone’s mind, as outbreaks continue around the world, and cases pop up right here in Oregon. Many of our members are on the front lines of this outbreak, whether you’re a care provider or in public health, and our Union is taking steps to ensure that you have a voice in how your employer responds to the virus.
Yesterday we issued a series of guidelines for how employers should respond. SEIU staff and member leaders are working directly with every employer to implement these guidelines, either though letters of agreement – which are similar to short-term contracts covering a very specific issue – or by enforcing existing contract language that is relevant. We expect most employers will respond positively to these suggestions, and we will be able to share specific information with people on next steps as early as next week.
We’ve also posted resources and information about the virus on our website, and encourage everyone to visit seiu503.org for more information.
We are speaking out in support of public employees and are asking that their employers make a few changes to support their employees on the job.
- Employers, government and policy makers have a responsibility to protect their employees from financial hardship. If they don’t, we’re asking people to weigh their personal financial security against public health – a decision that only a bad system would ask people to make.
- Where available, employers should expand telework and leave policies.
- If people have to go into work, provide them with the right equipment. Employees designated as essential staff, who cannot telework, should be provided all necessary and recommended safety equipment if required to work during an active outbreak of coronavirus. This is particularly important in health care and long-term care.
- Help employees find childcare. In the event that schools are closed and employees have to miss work to provide childcare, employers should allow their employees to use any accrued leave to cover time missed.
- Communicate about preventative measures and exposure to the virus. Many employers have sent out fact sheets and information about preventative measures. That’s encouraged, but not sufficient. If there is a concern that an employee has been exposed to the novel coronavirus, the employee’s manager should notify the employee, employees that share space with that person, and their union.
- Sign Letters of Agreement with your union, if you have one. Employers should codify the steps they’re taking to protect employees in LOAs, short-term agreements that deal with issues not covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
In other news, the costly Republican walkout in Salem has come to a close. Over the weekend the legislative session ended, and many important pieces of legislation were left on the floor. Here are some of the bills that impact SEIU members that were not passed.
- Funding for the raises homecare workers won in their latest contract.
- Funding for the Forestry department that’s needed to ensure they’re ready for the next wildfire season.
- Funding for DHS to support the foster care system.
Legislative leaders have not yet decided how to handle this situation, but we know that these bi-partisan budget bills would have passed in a heartbeat if the Republicans had stayed in Salem to do their jobs. Visit NoMoreCostlyWalkouts.com to learn more about this, and we will keep you updated on our fight to get our budgets filled and to hold our elected officials accountable.
In Southern Oregon, Jackson county workers are preparing to go out on strike.
After months of fighting for a fair contract, county officials have refused to offer affordable healthcare, retroactive wage increases, or a fair wage study to address low wages. The amount of disrespect that management has shown through this process is really unbelievable. Here’s a quick example: When management did a salary study for themselves, they used large counties like Lane, Washington and Clackamas as comparators to boost their own pay. But for our members, they want to use smaller counties like Douglas, Josephine, and Klamath to suppress the wages of our members. It is such a blatant double standard, and we can’t let them get away with it.
To take action on this, go to SEIU503.org. One of the first member news stories on the homepage is about Jackson County bargaining and it has a link in it that will let you email the Jackson County commissioners and tell them to do the right thing.
And finally, sub-local elections are taking place across our union! Make sure to cast your ballot for the leadership that you want to see for the next two years. We are a member-run democracy, and your participation in these elections is your voice in setting our priorities.
Thanks for tuning in to our first NEWS ROUNDUP. Stay tuned for another episode of our regular podcast format soon. Thanks!