“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 agencies like DHS will have to make cuts to balance their budget, and that puts the homecare and personal support worker programs at risk. Instead of fighting for raises, more client hours and PPE, we could find ourselves fighting off cuts.
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 prevent cuts to the homecare and personal support worker programs, but Senate Republicans and President Trump won’t negotiate until after the election, a blatantly political move that puts care providers at risk .
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will take action. If elected, Biden has promised to pass the Heroes Act, which would protect homecare and personal support workers from cuts, protect client hours, provide Americans with another $1,200 stimulus check and center our recovery on working people, not the rich and large corporations.
We’re also working to elect Deb Patterson – a fellow homecare worker and member of our Union – to the State Senate, where decisions about how to spend future federal relief dollars will be made.
Joe Biden’s support for the Heroes Act is just the beginning. He has also written a caregiving plan that would be a huge step forward, and it’s the first time a presidential candidate has elevated homecare and personal support to such a high level in an election.
The Biden caregiving plan would invest in higher wages, better benefits, and strong unions for caregivers. It would also create 3 million new jobs to meet the needs of families; 1.5 million in homecare and community health, as well as another 1.5 million focused on child care and education. Improving our nation’s caregiving programs is a core principle of the Biden administration – one that SEIU members helped create.
The outcome of the next election matters. A Trump victory means continued inaction on care, which could lead to cuts to Oregon’s homecare and personal support worker programs. A Biden victory means renewed investment in care, which will prevent cuts and allow us to begin fixing the many problems in homecare that exist today.
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.