Published: January 29, 2019


Oregon’s public employees, homecare workers, nursing home workers, childcare providers, adult foster home providers, and university employees came together this weekend to launch a historic, unified contract campaign that will improve lives of Oregonians in every part of the state.

The United for a Better Oregon campaign will focus on the following key priorities across our entire union:

  • Raising wages to keep up with the cost of living
  • Maintaining or creating benefits toward the goal that all SEIU members have a healthy life and a secure retirement.
  • Respect for the work we do and the value we contribute to the state of Oregon.
  • A strong union because Oregon families need good, union jobs.

“SEIU members fix our roads, we help hundreds of thousands of people get health insurance, we care for seniors and people with disabilities, we support working parents by providing child care, and we help students at universities get a good education,” said Steve Demarest, a long-term employee at the Department of Employment who serves as SEIU 503’s President. “This unified campaign will lift public services across the state, improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.”

By uniting in union, SEIU 503 members are among the strongest advocates for high-quality public services. As part of this campaign, we will fight to raise new revenue that is desperately needed in our schools, hospitals and other public services across the state. After decades of underfunding, it’s time to finally invest in Oregon.

“It’s very exciting to see our whole union working together, unified, to win strong contracts and improve services,” Demarest said. “By bargaining contracts with the state, we’re able to protect good union jobs for tens of thousands of families in Oregon, and improve services that everyone relies on. We are stronger together.”


Member Testimonials


“Oregon has had several years of catastrophic fire seasons, yet the state does not want to increase funding for fire protection. If our fire program is eliminated, private property will no longer be protected and state resources will be beholden to federal fire management teams. We need to increase revenue in order to maintain our Department of Forestry’s fire program.” — William Bennett, ODF (St. Helens)

“I’ve been working in child welfare for years. Mandatory overtime, burnout, two-to-three-to-four times the accepted ‘caseload model’ are all commonplace issues with my coworkers. Our state needs revenue now. We need 100% funding at DHS if we’re going to start providing better outcomes for the families we serve.” — Sara Ashmore, DHS (Portland/Gresham)


“Many of our consumers have worked all their lives to remain in their homes and live a life with love and dignity. We need funding for the hours, training, and supplies in order to care for our clients at their homes, so they can remain in their communities with family, friends and neighbors.” — Ruth Grimsrud, HCW (Vernonia)

Higher ED

“Right now we’re hiring temporary workers through a hiring agency as floaters and backfill positions. These employees don’t get the protection of our union, and their employment is not secure. We need to see investments that will bring more full-time staff to our universities so we can continue providing quality and affordable higher education for Oregon’s students.” — Liz Hahn, UO (Eugene)

“I grew up supported by Oregon’s public institutions — public schools, community college, and ultimately graduating from PSU, where I also now work. We need to invest in the kind of revenue reform that will save our students from a life of crippling debt while supporting the workers who dedicate their lives to public services.” — Danny Ryel, PSU (Portland)

Photos from the event