Published: June 30, 2021

 

At the beginning of 2021 thousands of nursing home workers filled out bargaining surveys, which is the first step our union takes when negotiating a new contract. The results of the survey were loud and clear: workers want better wages, better healthcare, and better staffing in long-term care facilities.

In order to accomplish this goal, we needed the State Legislature to make a significant investment in long-term care. Such an investment would create room in the budget for our bargaining team to win the compensation we deserve.

This week, the hard work of union members across Oregon finally paid off, with the Legislature making a historic investment into long-term care, which we will ensure get passed along as wage increases to workers. We also won 3 other important bills that will improve staffing, healthcare, and accountability for facility owners:

Staffing. We won legislation that requires employers to meet the “24-hour needs” of residents at Assisted Living and Memory Care Facilities. If that’s not happening, you can complain and there’s an enforcement mechanism to make sure the state will follow up on your complaint.
Healthcare. We created a trust for employers to get public funding to help make healthcare more affordable to workers. The trust will be funded by the state of Oregon and participating long-term care companies.

Wages. The nursing home industry pushed for a bunch of rate increases (money for the facilities), and we made sure they were tied to wage increases. Many of our union facilities already have wages well above minimum wage. But we made sure that low wage facilities would have to meet a minimum standard of $15 per hour. This is critical, because low wages anywhere drag down wages across the sector. Lifting the floor industry wide will ensure that we can bargain stronger contracts later this summer.

Transparency. We won a guarantee that the Department of Human Services will conduct a study on the cost of care, reimbursement rates, and average worker pay in long-term care facilities. Nursing home owners will be required to report publicly if they change ownership or management, and we ensured a seat for care workers on the Statewide Quality Measurement Council for nursing homes.

“Our members engage in politics because it’s the first step toward winning on wages, benefits and many things that impact the quality of care for nursing home residents. This year’s investment will set us up to win big at the bargaining table.

People often ask, why is our union political? The answer is our wins—on everything from our pay, to benefits, to the quality of care and standards in our industry —starts with wins at the State Legislature. With the great news on the budget this week, your member-elected bargaining team is going to begin negotiations with nursing home and ALF owners over how to spend this money. Our priorities remain the same, and now we have a clear path to winning.


SEIU 503 Members Persevere in a Historic 2021 Legislative Session

Oregon’s 2021 legislative session was truly historic. The session began with a bleak economic outlook that was buoyed by a series of improved revenue projections and a one-time infusion of $2.6 billion in federal aid. Thanks to the advocacy of SEIU members and our partners, these resources translated into historic investments in our essential public services. While our campaign for Essential Worker Pay didn’t materialize before the session ended, SEIU 503 members racked up significant wins in 2021 that set us up to win good contracts and strengthen our communities. We also saw another first: (former) Representative and Freedom Foundation Senior Fellow Mike Nearman was expelled by his peers for allowing rioters into the Capitol.

Check out the summaries below for more specific information for state employees, homecare and personal support workers, higher education, nursing home workers, and more!

State Agencies

Nearly all state agency budgets at current service level (CSL) or higher and $190 million was allocated for salary pots for our next contracts. We fought to make sure agencies that were severely impacted by the pandemic received the resources they need to maintain a workforce and provide the essential services Oregonians rely on. We were able to fight off any cuts to PERS and PEBB, and pass HB 3047, the “anti-doxxing” bill that gives people recourse if their personal information is used to harass them online. Click here for more information.

Homecare and Personal Support 

Through our members’ advocacy we were able to secure one-time pandemic payments and increased resources for wages and benefits. This year’s bargaining pot is $30.1 million, a 50% increase from 2019, which brings our total resources for bargaining our next contract to nearly $80 million. Click here for more information.

Higher Education 

SEIU 503 members helped to secure $900 million in Public University Support Funding (PUSF), an increase of 7.5% and new all-time high investment, which places our members in a position to bargain a good contractSenate Bill 712 expands Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) voting rights for students, faculty, and staff, giving our members a voice in how Oregon’s higher education system operates. We also helped pass a number of bills that make education more affordable, accessible, and equitable. Click here for more information.

Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care 

On the heels of a global pandemic that laid bare inadequacies in our state’s long-term care system, our union led an effort that resulted in Oregon Legislators taking a bold step forward to reform the way seniors and people with disabilities are supported in Oregon. A package of bills passed in the final days of the legislative session aim to address staffing issues (SB 266 and SB 714), lead to more transparency (SB 703), and provide access to healthcare for workers (SB 800) at Oregon’s long-term care facilities. In addition, legislators increased the amount of public funding going toward long-term care facilities with the intention of raising wages and creating opportunities for companies to invest in their infrastructure. Click here for more information.

Adult Foster Homes

When the American Rescue Plan passed in March, our union jumped on a huge opportunity to ensure resources went to our members, including a 10% increase to the FMAP (Medicaid) rate for Home and Community Based Care Services (HCBS). Through our members’ advocacy we were able to secure resources for one-time pandemic payments and increased resources for wages and benefits, including a $20 million salary pot and additional one-time resources for rate increases.

Strengthening Community

SEIU 503 members represent the diversity of our state. We are Black, white, and brown. We are multi-generational Oregonians and immigrants who live in rural areas and cities. We reflect the gender and sexual orientation spectrums. Some of us also experience food and housing insecurity, and we are all increasingly feeling the impacts of climate change. While the Legislature fell short on a groundbreaking criminal justice measure, we were able to secure historic investments in housing and behavioral health as well as key victories in health careimmigrant rightsfamily supportspublic safety, broadband, water infrastructurewildfire mitigation, and climate justiceClick here for more information.

Oregon’s 2021 legislative session was truly historic. The session began with a bleak economic outlook that was buoyed by a series of improved revenue projections and a one-time infusion of $2.6 billion in federal aid. Thanks to the advocacy of SEIU members and our partners, these resources translated into historic investments in our essential public services. While our campaign for Essential Worker Pay didn’t materialize before the session ended, SEIU 503 members racked up significant wins in 2021 that set us up to win good contracts and strengthen our communities. We also saw another first: (former) Representative and Freedom Foundation Senior Fellow Mike Nearman was expelled by his peers for allowing rioters into the Capitol.

Check out the summaries below for more specific information for state employees, homecare and personal support workers, higher education, nursing home workers, and more!