Published: May 31, 2023

The Oregon Legislature plays a key role in SEIU 503 contracts and working conditions. Funding for bargaining and state agencies that employ 90% of our members comes from the state budget passed every two years. This is a budget year and a bargaining year, so there is a lot on the line for our next contract. There are also dozens of other bills that will have a major impact on our members, our families, and our communities – ranging from housing to health care and everything in between. 

All of that has been in limbo since May 3rd when Senate Republicans stopped sending enough members to the floor to meet “quorum,” or the 20-person threshold required for the Senate to conduct business. Since May 3rd, only two Republican Senators have been present on the floor, which is not enough to debate bills or take important votes. Frustratingly, the Senators who haven’t been coming to the floor are still being paid their taxpayer-funded salary. 

So why does this matter? 

Last year, Oregon voters overwhelmingly passed Measure 113 with 68% of the vote, in 34 of 36 Oregon counties, and in every Senate district – including the districts whose Senators have walked out. Measure 113 amended the Oregon Constitution to prohibit legislators with 10 or more excused absences from holding their seats after their current term ends. 10 of the 13 Senators have exceeded 10 unexcused absences and will be barred from running for reelection. 

And the walkout is still going on today, with no end in sight. The current legislative session is constitutionally required to end by June 25th and there are now more than 127 bills waiting to be voted on in the Senate, with hundreds more waiting in committees. This includes every agency budget bill and nearly all of SEIU’s priority bills. 

This isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue. Almost all of the bills waiting for the Senators’ return have received bipartisan support and impact Oregonians in all four corners of our state. From Bend, to Yamhill County, to La Grande, newspapers across Oregon have called on the Senators to do the job they were elected to do. These Senators didn’t just walk out of the Legislature. They walked out on their duties as elected officials, they walked out on the urgent needs of their constituents, and they walked out on you.

Our state and homecare contracts end on June 30th, and we are counting on legislators to pass a budget before then. Fortunately, the Legislature passed a bill to make sure Agencies stay funded through September 15, but shutdown is not an option. Senators have until June 25 to get back to work. If they don’t return by then, they are marching toward a government shutdown that will hurt SEIU members and all of our communities. 

No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, everyone deserves a fair COLA. The Senate is playing politics with our contract and our ability to provide for ourselves and our families. We’ve worked through a pandemic, wildfires, historic ice storms, and more – and we need all Senators to come to the table to pass legislation that is critical to SEIU members and all Oregonians. This reckless political game needs to end. 

Tell Senators to Come Back to the Floor!