“Why is our union involved in politics?” Members of all political stripes often ask about our union’s political activity. In 2020, the answer is crystal clear.
Due to the pandemic, Oregon is facing an unpredictable economic outlook and a significant shortfall in our state budget. Without additional federal funding or new revenue, state and local governments will have to make cuts to balance their budget. So instead of fighting for raises, better equipment, PPE and other improvements to our workplaces, we could find ourselves fighting off cuts to our benefits or, worse, layoffs.
The best tools we have to mitigate this disaster require political action by SEIU 503 members. Just this week, President Trump pulled the plug on negotiations over the Heroes Act – that’s the COIVD relief plan The House of Representatives passed back in May, more than five months ago. Another updated plan passed on October 1. These plans would send billions of dollars to Oregon that would protect SEIU 503 members from budget cuts, but Senate Republicans and President Trump won’t negotiate until after the election, a blatantly political move that puts our public services and the people who rely on them at risk.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will take action. If elected, Biden has promised to pass the Heroes Act, which would provide $436 billion to state and local governments to keep our vital public services running. The legislation would also provide Americans with another $1,200 stimulus check and take other steps to center our recovery on working people, not the rich and large corporations.
We’re also working to elect Deb Patterson – a fellow SEIU 503 member – to the State Senate, where decisions about how to spend future federal relief dollars will be made.
Both at the Federal and State level, the outcome of the next election matters. A Trump victory means continued inaction on public funding and likely cuts that impact us. A Biden victory means renewed investment in public services and a recovery plan that’s focused on working people.
So to answer the question: “Why is our union involved in politics?” It’s because politicians make decisions that affect our lives, and workers like us deserve a say in how those decisions are made.