Published: June 25, 2021

Whatever we call it—essential worker pay, hero pay, hazard pay, pandemic pay—we know that essential workers in our union deserve to be respected, protected and paid for the additional risks that come with working through a pandemic. But we learned this week that the State Legislature will not pass the essential worker pay proposal. Essential workers across Oregon will not get the recognition they deserve for working through a pandemic. At least not right away.

For union members, there is another way forward: contract negotiations. 

Your member-elected bargaining team is meeting with the state this week, and their top economic priorities moving forward will be a proposal on hazard pay for essential workers and cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for everyone. The Legislature will finalize the budget for State Agencies over the next few days, so now is the time to put pressure on management to give us the compensation we deserve!

You can help us win these proposals by calling Governor Kate Brown and asking her to tell State Agencies to support our proposals!

Governor Brown (503) 378-4582.


Hello. My name is [Your name] and I am a member of SEIU 503. I’m calling to ask that you support hazard pay and cost of living raises for state employees. Oregon’s state employees masked up, did our jobs, and kept our economy running through a pandemic, wildfires and other crises of 2020. Our employer did little more than pay lip service to the risks we took to do our essential jobs. Now you have an opportunity to make that right at the bargaining table. Please support our union and settle a contract with hazard pay and cost of living raises for Oregon’s frontline workers.

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