Together in union, homecare and personal support workers have made huge gains. But we still face problems. Many of us feel disrespected by leadership at DHS, and rightly so. This summer, SEIU members took our next big step forward by passing the Unions For All/Long-Term Care resolution. The resolution – which was voted on by union members at our biannual General Council – commits SEIU to organizing thousands of non-union care providers into our union, in order to lift standards for our current union members.
Here’s why that’s so important.
One of the major obstacles we face is poor standards across our industry. Regardless of where you work – state programs, private pay homecare, or facility-based care – low wages, scant benefits, and poor training programs are common. These low standards make it difficult for union members to negotiate because we’re constantly being compared with non-union workers. For example, it’s nearly impossible to win $20/hr in your contract when a non-union care provider will do the job for $14/hr.
In order to move forward, we must take a lesson from other industries where a higher union density has led to major reforms. The Unions For All/Long-Term Care resolution is a plan to raise standards across the board by organizing thousands of new workers into our union. When the day comes that nearly every care provider in Oregon has a union, we will be in a position to make radical improvements to the lives of our members and the people we care for.
Our Union’s slogan – Stronger Together – is more than just words on a page. It’s the principle that guides our work.
Unions For All/Long-Term Care Resolution
Voted into effect by the SEIU 503 2020 General Council
WHEREAS SEIU Local 503, OPEU envisions a just and vibrant society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and where all workers can provide for themselves and their families;
WHEREAS Care Providers provide such an important service to our most vulnerable communities;
WHEREAS The current pandemic has unveiled the flaws in our healthcare system, specifically in the long-term care service sector where workers are underpaid, overworked and not given the training, supplies and tools they needed in the face of this global emergency while providing the most vital services to making sure people are kept safe and cared for;
WHEREAS Care Work has historically been undervalued, considered “women’s work” and expected to be done by women, women of color and immigrants without complaint and as a result seen as invisible work;
WHEREAS Across Oregon and across the country, we see in-home care workers overlooked by the institutions, left out of recovery benefits, deprioritized and ignored when asking for the protective equipment needed to do their work safely;
WHEREAS: We must not let the State of Oregon balance the budget on vital services including services for seniors and people with disabilities on the backs of caregivers in the state of Oregon;
WHEREAS In order to raise standards we need to grow our union and in order to grow our union we need to pursue multiple strategies to give workers a voice, now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the General Council of SEIU Local 503, OPEU: That SEIU Local 503 adopts the Unions for all Agenda where we can bring workers and companies to the table by geography, industry, or occupation to negotiate for better jobs and better lives for our families and communities.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED by the General Council of SEIU Local 503: That SEIU Local 503 builds a multi-year campaign focused on growing the union and raising standards across the long-term care service sector. A campaign that is multifaceted, innovative and that provides multiple tools and finds new and innovative ways to build worker power. A campaign led by member leaders demanding to lift standards for their workforce.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED by the General Council of SEIU Local 503: That these efforts include a focus on putting public money to work to support better union jobs and put good union jobs at the center of any effort to fix the economy.