Published: February 21, 2020

During the 2019 legislative session, Oregon lawmakers passed House Bill 2016, the Oregon Public Employee Protection Act. On January 1, 2020, these changes took effect, enacting some of the largest pro-employee changes to Oregon law in several decades. 

Under the new law, Oregon public employers are required to: 

  • Provide new employee orientations or individual meetings to all new employees with at least 30 minutes of paid time to meet with a union representative, learn about their collective bargaining agreement, and their rights as a union member. 
  • Provide reasonable paid time to union stewards who represent employees by investigating and filing grievances, attend disciplinary investigatory meetings, grievance meetings or arbitration hearings, and attend labor-management committee meetings. Now, a reasonable amount of paid time is a right under Oregon law. 
  • Provide reasonable paid time to bargaining delegates who represent public employees at the bargaining table so that these representatives aren’t forced to use paid leave.
  • If the union requests, public employers must bargain to provide reasonable terms of release time for public employees to act as a designated representative of their union. This may broaden access to our Union’s Member Leadership Development Program allowing more members to participate without loss of compensation or benefits. 
  • The new law strengthens prohibitions on an employer discouraging union membership, which can be pursued through an unfair labor practice complaint if managers encourage employees not to sign up as union members or to resign their union membership, which threatens the ability of all union members to stand together and bargain for better wages and working conditions. 

These changes were only possible because we elected worker-friendly legislators who listen to SEIU 503 members when they come to them with issues, and are willing to act. This work is made possible by CAPE, our member-driven political program. Please consider making a CAPE contribution today. CAPE is entirely funded by voluntary donations, not dues, that thousands of SEIU 503 members make because they know that the decisions made in Salem impact all of us. 

It’s an exciting time to be a union representative. If you’re interested in learning more about running for union office or becoming a steward, talk to your field organizer or call our Union at 1-844-503-SEIU (7348), or visit to learn more about how you can get involved. 

If you are already a union steward and have further questions about these changes to Oregon law, please contact our Member Resource Center at 1-844-503-SEIU (7348).