Over the last five weeks, 30 million Americans, including 334,000 Oregonians, have filed for unemployment benefits while thousands of businesses have had to close. At the same time, demand for public services is going up and SEIU members – everyone from state, university and local government workers to care providers and long-term care facilities – are on the frontlines of the State’s recovery plans. We are essential.
This crisis has revealed a thin social safety net in America, drained by years of underinvestment in federal, state and local government programs. Programs like unemployment benefits, the Oregon Health Plan and food assistance that are critical when a crisis hits.
The financial impacts of a recession are often delayed in the public sector, but the impact of COVID-19 on the State budget is likely to be severe. State agencies, local governments and public universities are all likely to experience the impact, and we don’t know what that will mean for our members.
We do know that at times like this, we should be extending gratitude to all those who have been working through the pandemic. In particular, we should be supporting the many people whose jobs put them at risk of contracting COVID-19.
Congress and the Trump Administration can’t ignore the looming budget crisis in state and local governments. Congress bailed out Wall Street and they’ve passed important relief packages for workers and businesses. Now we must prioritize funding for states and local governments, in order to protect public services and the essential workers who provide them.
Responding To A Revenue Shortfall
The impact on the State Budget and the budget of local governments is certain to be significant, and it’s time we start preparing as a Union to avoid or minimize furloughs, cuts to services, or layoffs. We will know more about where we stand in May when the Legislature issues the next budget forecast.
Here’s our plan:
- Regular Updates: We will continue to communicate with members in a variety of ways to keep you apprised of the latest developments and resources available. If you haven’t signed up for our Wednesday Action emails we encourage you to do that by clicking here.
- Advocate for State Dollars in the next Federal Package: In order to protect services and jobs, the Federal Government must step up and provide flexible aid to states. We will be engaging with our federal delegates and helping other states do the same. Please click here for information on how to call your Senators and Representative and demand relief for state and local budgets.
- Mid May: Analyze the May revenue forecast, and share information quickly. We’re planning a tele town hall to share information and answer questions, and we will share the date and time as soon as it is scheduled.
- Late May and ongoing: Engage with management early and often. We need to make sure our voices are heard at every step in the process. If there are going to be any cuts, furloughs or layoffs, we will enter into a bargaining process with management.
We know times are uncertain, but we will get through this together.