Who we are…
For the purposes of bargaining, members who work for state agencies are divided into four coalitions: DHS, Institutions, ODOT, and Specials. The DHS Coalition includes the Employment Department, the Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Human Services (DHS).

PERS pick-up buyout proposal FAQ

What is the 6 percent pickup and how did it come to be?

Prior to 1979, state workers paid 6 percent of our wages towards PERS. In 1979, during bargaining, we accepted a proposal from the State to pay the 6 percent into our PERS accounts, which increased member take-home pay even though wage rates remained the same because members no longer had to pay the 6 percent out-of-pocket.

What is our proposal?

Rather than the state continuing to “pick up” the 6 percent by paying it directly into our PERS accounts, these funds would be transferred back to the employee’s pay and then transferred, as a pre-tax deduction, into the employee’s PERS account. Any additional payroll tax, and increased PERS contribution, incurred as a result of the “buy back” would be covered by an additional 1 percent paid by the state into the employee’s pay. The intent is that this would be a zero cost to members.


How would this benefit us?

There are a number of ways this would be in our best interests. First, it would be an additional benefit for OPSRP members (those hired on or after August 29, 2003, also known as Tier 3), as it would translate into a higher average final salary. Currently, Tier 1 and 2 members already have the 6 percent pick-up counted toward their final average salary, but OPSRP members do not.

In addition, pay and benefits that are based on your wage rate would increase; this includes IAP contributions, overtime, out-of-class and lead differentials, vacation payouts, and Social Security calculations. For example, if you work overtime or have a pay differential, this could put more money in your pocket.

Previous attempts to end the 6 percent pick-up would have resulted in an equivalent pay cut for all PERS members; this issue was a central cause of the 1995 strike by state and higher education workers in Oregon. Because we prevailed in striking down the recently passed PERS COLA cap in court, there have already been proposals to end the 6 percent pick up in a way that would not hold us harmless, but would instead entail some sort of pay cut (i.e. legislation allowing for negotiations over splitting the pick-up, or eliminating it altogether at our own expense).

Does this mean a pay increase for me?

No. There would basically be no change in total compensation. It would, however, increase your IAP contributions, overtime pay, out-of-class and lead differentials, vacation payouts, and Social Security.

If this doesn’t put more money in my pocket, why do it?

Besides the fact that the current system suppresses retirement income for OPSRP members, the Bargaining Team is making this proposal as a defensive measure aimed at protecting member retirement for the future.

The Bargaining Team has made proposals to “put more money in pockets” including:

  • A cost-of-living increase on July 1 of each contract year that would be equal to the consumer price index plus 2 percent, with a minimum increase of 2 percent and a maximum increase of 6 percent
  • Steps in each year of the contract
  • Maintaining the current health insurance language
  • Adding two steps to the top of the pay scale
  • Creating a $15 minimum wage for all state employees
  • Working with the State to examine and address the gap in pay that exists between women and men who do jobs with similar skill levels

Would the PERS buy back impact my ability to qualify for public assistance or increase garnishments or other payments I am required to make?

It’s not possible to speak to all circumstances. If you are impacted by an income-based benefit or payment plan, you’ll need to consult with whoever oversees your benefits or payments. Be sure to tell them this is a “pre-tax retirement benefit.”

Is this a new idea?

No. The idea of buying out the 6 percent has been discussed at bargaining tables and in the legislature for years. Many unions, including our fellow members at Portland Public Schools and most firefighter and law enforcement bargaining units, have already adopted a buyout because they saw it as being in their best interests. Our bargaining team believes this is the best way to secure our retirement.

Why now?

This concept is a carry-forward from previous bargaining sessions and the current Bargaining Team recognizes the time is right and winning the proposal is crucial. At the Bargaining Conference held on Sunday, January 25, this proposal was brought forward to the assembled delegates. The delegates in attendance understood the importance and supported moving this forward.

Timing is critical as we face huge attacks on Unions and public workers. These attacks are focused on collection of dues, the right to collectively bargain and the ability to have a secure retirement.

How would it work?

See chart above. If we were to agree to this framework, our bargaining team would need to negotiate the details, including effective date and implementation.

How would this impact my dues and other payroll deductions?

Any deduction based on a percentage of your wages would be impacted. On the income side, overtime, wage-based differentials, vacation payouts would benefit. Similarly, dues would go up a small amount: For every additional $100/month you earn, your dues would go up $1.70. For example, if you make $40,000 a year, your dues would likely go up between $3.40 and $3.90/month, depending on exact terms of the buy-out.

Would I be able to pay that money into a 401k of my choice or use it otherwise?

No. By law, the 6 percent must be paid into your IAP account either by the employee or the employer.

How will this impact my income taxes?

While the funds are part of your income, they are not reported in Gross Income for tax purposes. The deduction is handled on a “pre-tax” basis just as your portion of your insurance premium is handled; therefore, it will have a negligible impact on your income taxes.

For information on PERS, there is a wealth of information on the PERS website, including the following benefit comparison chart:


This FAQ was updated May 6, 2015, and will continue to be updated as more information is available.

PERS video

A short animated clip explaining the past and the future of PERS:

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Human Services Barg Update 3-3-2015

We met with the management bargaining team on Thursday, February 26 for our second round of bargaining. We have reached tentative agreements on seven articles so far, but we need to keep moving forward. We are moving through the current Letters of Agreement and gathering data to support your issues.

We need your help on a couple of the issues we are working on.

  • We need everyone in DHS/OHA to sign the petition on Article 45.1M transfer language and return them to your organizer or Lisa Donoho. You can get a copy of the petition from your organizer or steward.
  • We also need people in both DHS/OHA and Employment to sign and return the petition on LOA, Article 49.1C relating to trial service. Return to Tia Fraser, Austin Folnagy, your organizer or Dianne Hibbard at hibbardd@seiu503.org. You can get a copy of the petition from your organizer or steward.

In order to support all bargaining, attend the Statewide Days of Action on March 17 & 18 in your area or worksite.

Our next bargaining session is scheduled on Thursday, March 12 at 5:30 pm. Bargaining sessions are open to everyone and we invite you to join us. Contact Lisa Donoho at donohol@seiu503.org or Bobbie Muncrief at muncriefb@seiu503.org for more information.

Your bargaining team members for the Human Services Coalition are:

Steve Demarest – Employment, Portland -Central Table
Wayne Ground – DHS, Salem -Central Table
Shamus Cooke, DHS – Portland
Betty Holladay – DHS, Salem
Bruce Kennedy-Smith – DHS, Hillsboro
Rhonda Morgan, DHS – Gold Beach
Mary Perry, DHS – Portland
Martin Ramirez – DHS, Medford
Mike Roberts – DHS, Medford
Theresa Arndt – Employment, Salem
Austin Folnagy – Employment, Klamath Falls
Tia Fraser – Employment, Beaverton
Jerry Rosenkoetter – Employment, Salem
Michel Miller – OHA, Salem

Contact your team at stateworkerbargaining@seiu503.org.

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Human Services Barg Update 2-16-2015

Our coalition got off to a great start last Thursday night, by coming to an agreement with management on a few Letters of Agreement. Although we did not talk about them at our first session, we also are ready to move on a number of other issues, like lateral transfers, trial service for some classifications, and mentoring for CW & APD case managers.

We will be bargaining on Thursdays, and our next session is scheduled at SEIU HQ in Salem on February 26 at 5:30. You are welcome to attend. February 24 is our first Lobby Day for the Fair Shot Campaign. This should be a fun and exciting day at the Capitol with Legislators. This campaign sets us up for the budget battles in 2016. Join the fun and register today at http://seiu503.seiu.org/page/s/sign-up-for-2015-lobby-days. This is our fight for the future.

March 17 & 18 are statewide Days of Action. Plan on doing something purple in your worksites and sign the pledge card. This action really moves our contract campaign forward and your participation makes it all happen.

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State Workers elect central bargaining team

StateWorkerBTElected bargaining delegates from throughout Oregon met on Saturday to talk about bargaining priorities and strategy, including winning good wages and benefits for state workers and fighting for a fair economy for all Oregonians.

Delegates also chose our union’s leadership team for bargaining. Our elected central table bargaining team is:

Steve Demarest, Employment Department
Wayne Ground, DHS/OHA
Brant Johnson, Oregon State Hospital
Sandi Kalin, Department of Administrative Services
Noel Magee, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Rolando Ramirez, Oregon Youth Authority
Mike Scott, Oregon Department of Transportation
Mary Stewart, Department of Revenue

The elected bargaining team will be joined by Heather Conroy, SEIU 503 Executive Director, and SEIU 503 staff member Heather Blankenheim.

The team will meet soon to discuss our bargaining priorities for 2015-2017. If you are an SEIU 503 represented state worker, please take a few minutes to complete your bargaining survey.

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PEBB announces September face-to-face meetings for 2015 health plans

PEBB has just announced that they will do a series of meetings around the state to inform us about our health care choices for 2015.  Increased communication is something our committee has pushed for and we are glad to see an expanded list of in-person meetings happening prior to October open enrollment.  Click here to find the meeting closest to you – the meetings start this Thursday, Sept. 4th.

As a reminder, there are two big pieces of good news around our health insurance:

  • We will receive our cost of living adjustment (COLA) this month (3 months early!) – the 2% COLA will go into effect on Sept. 1, 2014 thanks to union contract language that puts money unspent on healthcare into our paychecks.  This is a direct result of health care premiums going slightly down in 2015.
  • If full-time members choose the least costly plan in their area, their premium share will be reduced from 5% to 3%.

These steps forward are due to increased member activism around contract negotiations and healthcare, and to effective advocacy by our union PEBB representatives. Despite these gains, we still believe the state has a ways to go in improving our work environments so that we can all be healthier.  We will provide updates as we make further recommendations to PEBB.

In Unity,

Your PEBB Member Advisory Committee (PMAC) Representatives
Keary DeBeck, Labor Chair for the Committee, Dept. of Justice
Cary Fardal, Oregon State Hospital
Wednesday Martin, DHS Vocational Rehabilitation
Shaun Parkman, Oregon Health Authority
Siobhan Martin, SEIU Staff Advisor

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Congratulations to newly-elected officers of Human Services

Our union is proud to announce the results of the Human Services Union Officer, Bargaining Delegate, and General Council Elections.
Officers hold a two year office May 1, 2014 – April 30, 2016

President: Rhonda Morgan
Vice President: Alice Pangburn
Secretary: Betty Holladay
Treasurer: Wayne Ground

Sub Local 201:
Chair: Jonathan Spagle
Vice Chair: Aimee Driskill
Secretary: Jeanna Stellflug
Treasurer: Belinda Bellante

Sub Local 202:
Chair: Sarah Johnston
Vice Chair: Mary Perry
Secretary: Jessica Guadarrama-Torres
Treasurer: Jasmine Metz

Sub Local 203:
Chair: Julianne Fredrickson
Treasurer: Kerri Stepisnik
Secretary: Angela Jacoby
Treasurer: Melany Hammang

Sub Local 204:
Chair: Kristie Hernandez
Vice Chair: Mandee Buen
Secretary: Maria O’Grady
Treasurer: Debora Veronneau

Sub Local 205:
Chair: Mark Stern
Vice Chair: Robert Westermann
Secretary: Araceli Ortiz
Treasurer: Samantha Lee

Sub Local 206:
Chair: Deanna Boylan
Vice Chair:Wednesday Martin
Secretary: Mary Guthrie
Treasurer: Vacant

Sub Local 207:
Chair: Jessica Morris
Vice Chair: Elisha Bready
Secretary: Tracey Anderson
Treasurer: Steven Wesman

Sub Local 208:
Chair: Michael Roberts
Vice Chair: Vanessa Herriott
Secretary: Deborah Salgado
Treasurer: Martin Ramirez

Sub Local 209:
Chair: Elisa Preciado
Vice Chair: Jennifer Maier
Secretary: Carol Ann Shaw
Treasurer: Atha Lincoln

Sub Local 210:
Chair: Rebecca Smallwood
Vice Chair: Moises Hernandez
Secretary: Evelyn Marshall
Treasurer: Debra Meadows

Sub Local 211:
Chair: Vickie High
Vice Chair: Cynthia Potucek
Secretary: Dorybel Herrera
Treasurer: Tracy Lane

Sub Local 212:
Chair: Julie Krajacic
Vice Chair: Chela Navejar
Secretary: Erin Drake
Treasurer: Lolly Torres

Sub Local 213:
Chair: Jennifer Stephens
Vice Chair: Jeremiah Vosler
Secretary: Jeb Oliver
Treasurer: Cassidy Gorham

Sub Local 214:
Chair: Doug Zambrano
Vice Chair: Roger Haro
Secretary: Vacant
Treasurer: Vacant

Sub Local 215:
Chair: Lorene Arias
Vice Chair: Anya Khasanov
Secretary: Vicki Pearse
Treasurer: Kimberly Brown

Sub Local 216:
Chair: Anne Kirby
Vice Chair: Michelle Fort
Secretary: Nicole Meeker
Treasurer: Alanna Johnson

Sub Local 217:
Chair: Tonjia Doeden
Vice Chair: Michel Miller
Secretary: Pat Caldwell
Treasurer: Lisa Baker

Sub Local 218:
Chair: Andie Carmona
Vice Chair: Megan Enbody
Secretary: Bonnie Edmondson
Treasurer: Vacant

Sub Local 219:
Chair: Hillary Booth
Vice Chair: Sarah Hargand
Secretary: Jacqueline Harris
Treasurer: Steven Baird

Sub Local 220:
Chair: Corey Hemphill
Vice Chair: Adonal Arrington
Secretary: Jeff Randall
Treasurer: Jan Mautz

Bargaining Delegates (by number of votes):
Rhonda Morgan, Betty Holladay, Shamus Cooke, Wayne Ground, Michael Roberts, Michel Miller, Bob Allyn, Jasmine Metz, Martin Ramirez, Mary Perry, Carol Dobrovolny, Sarah Johnston

Bargaining Alternates (by number of votes):
Doug Zambrano, Jack Graham, Anya Khasanov, Eric Espinosa, Bruce Kennedy, Vanessa Herriott, Robert Westermann, Farrell Hopkins, Jennifer Stephens, Shelly Morton, Elisa Preciado, Angela Nelson, Latosha Dyson, Samantha Lee, Deborah Rehman

General Council Delegates (excluding auto delegates, by number of votes):
Leela Coleman, Shamus Cooke, Jack Graham, Pat Caldwell, Farrell Hopkins, Jacqueline Harris, Bonnie Anderson, Jessica Guadarrama-Torres, Rebekah Cook, Alanna Johnson, Martin Ramirez, Laura Cole, Angela Jacoby, Belinda Bellante, Jasmine Metz, Robert Hendrick

General Council Alternates (by number of votes):
Maria Correa-Ojeda, Latosha Dyson, Fred Jabin, Paul Peterson, Dana Margosian, Maryann Terpstra, Araceli Ortiz, Tricia Swallow, Shelly Morton, Christina Thompson, Deborah Rehman, Jeanna Stellflug, Angela Nelson, Samantha Lee

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State workers vote to ratify contract

The tentative agreement for the 2013-2015 union contract has been ratified by state worker members. At the ballot count August 17, with just under 5,000 ballots cast, 95% of voters approved the agreement.

We hope you share the pride we feel in the substantial improvements in this contract, as well as in the unity and action demonstrated by thousands of members.  In pickets, purple-ups, strike preparations, and political participation in our communities, the halls of the Capitol and at the ballot box, we demonstrated to management and our fellow Oregonians that we are indeed all “In It Together.”

The next few years will continue to challenge us. There continues to be discussion of a special legislative session later this year to enact further PERS cuts. On the 2014 ballot, anti-union forces are putting forward measures that, if passed, would weaken our collective voice. As we navigate these challenges and prepare for contract negotiations in 2015, we must maintain the great spirit of solidarity—with each other, our clients, and all Oregonians—that propelled us to victory today.

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State Worker Tentative Agreement Summary Video

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State worker bargaining team reaches tentative agreement

For months, state workers have been showing our fellow Oregonians what it means to be “In It Together.”  In hundreds of actions culminating in an overwhelming strike authorization vote, thousands of SEIU 503 state workers sent a loud and clear message that we won’t back down until we have a fair contract.

Our work has paid off. Early this morning, we reached a tentative agreement with the state that we believe is just, returns us to a place of economic stability, and begins to address broader issues Oregonians face.  While we all want and deserve more, we believe that together our campaign brought about the best agreement possible.

Some highlights of the agreement include:

  • Holding the line on 5% premium share, plus a pathway to a 3% premium share in 2015

  • Maintaining the low-wage worker and part-time worker healthcare subsidies

  • Cost-of-living raises of 1.5% effective Dec. 1, 2013 and 2% effective Dec. 1, 2014

  • End step freeze

  • No changes to the 6% pick-up

  • An end to furloughs

  • Healthy workplace improvements, including trauma training, a statewide healthy workplace committee, and enforcement options to address bullying.

More details will be available via email and at www.seiu503.org in the coming days.

Next steps:

  1. Bargaining Conference: On July 27, elected bargaining delegates will come together in Salem to discuss the details of the tentative agreement.

  2. Membership Vote: Following the conference, a ratification ballot together with a detailed explanation of the tentative agreement will be mailed to all state workers in SEIU.  If you are not a member we encourage you to join with your coworkers and have your voice counted by returning the enclosed membership application with your ballot.

In a recent opinion piece in the Statesman Journal, SEIU 503 Executive Director Heather Conroy made the case that the fight for a fair contract is about more than ourselves–it’s about standing up for our clients, our communities, and Oregon’s middle class. We have been honored to help lead that charge as your elected bargaining team, and we look forward to continuing in that struggle with you.

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State worker bargaining update: pushing for the best contract possible

Our team has been back at the table for the last two days.

On Monday, we got some more movement from management.  They’ve moved to 1.5% effective December on the COLAs, better language around contracting out, and they dropped their email ban proposal.

In addition to wages, we’re still a ways apart on the low-wage worker healthcare subsidy, selectives, and the step slide issue.

We’re hoping to reach settlement on a fair contract this week; however, we are preparing to exercise our power next week if need be. Please plan on joining a strike preparation meeting at your local field office this weekend. Offices will be open 9:00-6:00 both days.

We’re back at the bargaining table again tomorrow and will continue to push to get the best contract possible!

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