Specials

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 Specials Coalition includes: Department of Education (DOE), Water Resources Department (WRD), Oregon State Library (OSL), Oregon State Treasury (OST), Department of Administrative Services (DAS)…


Specials Coalition 2015 Bargaining Team

Mary Stewart, Revenue, Eugene – Central Table
Sandi Kalin, DAS, Salem – Central Table
Mike Forrest, Ag, Salem
Roberta Laux, Ag, Salem
David Priebe, Ad, Salem
Carolyn Briggs, Blind Commission, Portland
Lloyd Perez, BOLI, Portland
Dan McKay, DAS, Salem
Steve Walsh, DAS, Salem
Jim Beck, DCBS, Portland
Dianna Janowski, DCBS, Salem
Michael Elliott, Education, Salem
Karen Harrison, Education, Salem
Sam Ko, Education, Salem
Desiree Brown, Justice, E. Portland
Keary DeBeck, Justice, CCBC, Salem
Kathleen Lamar, Justice, CCBC, Salem
Chris Melgard, Justice, Robertson Bldg, Salem
Nita Goss, Medical Board, Portland
Dolores Vance, OHCS, Salem
Rachel Cummings, OSAC, Eugene
Mary Lang, PERS, Tigard
Susan Mundell, PERS, Tualatin
Millard Minor, Revenue, Salem
Flor Morales, Revenue, Salem
Jessyca Stafford, Revenue, Eugene
Ann Reed, State Library, Salem
Matthew Garrett, Teachers Standards & Practices, Salem
Leah Rickert, Veterans Affairs, Salem
Susan Douthit, Water Resources, Salem
Ronald Kohanek, Water Resources, Salem
Shawna Akin, SEIU 503 Staff
Veronica Miller, SEIU 503 Staff

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PERS Buy-Out FAQ

What is the 6 percent pick-up 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.

PERScomparison

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 Tier 3 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 Tier 3 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:

http://apps.pers.state.or.us/pers238/a-z_project_chapter_238.htm

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

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Long night, BIG wins for Specials Coalition

In a significant change from the last bargaining session, where there was little movement and many proposed take-aways, management came to the table Tuesday night willing to work towards an agreement. After passing proposals back and forth, the Union bargaining team had the following wins:

  • Improved language regarding education, training and development of employees to foster career development.
  • Employees will have the right to choose whether to receive pay or compensatory time for holidays on normally scheduled days off.
  • We held the line on the probationary period for Appraiser Analysts at six (6) months.
  • We blocked any changes to language regarding temporary schedule modifications.

Custodians from the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) came to the table to testify about job postings and seniority promotion language within DAS. They made it clear that not all employees of DAS have access to computers, the kiosks that are available are outdated and often offline, and that the ability to see open positions would be impossible for many without hard copies of job announcements being posted throughout the agency. It was also made clear that the elimination of the seniority language at DAS in regards to promotions was unacceptable.

Management appeared unaware of the number of problems with discarding the bulletin board job posting language, and it is the team’s hope this testimony will be helpful in retaining the current contract language.

In order to continue this work, the team needs your help! Come join the team at a bargaining session, purple up on Wednesdays, and sign up for an upcoming Lobby Day! Also, if you are an employee of the Department of Agriculture, please sign the petition regarding overtime and seniority. You can contact a member of the bargaining team for a copy.

In Unity,

The Specials Coalition Bargaining Team

Mary Stewart, Revenue, Eugene – Central Table
Sandi Kalin, DAS, Salem – Central Table
Mike Forrest, Ag, Salem
Roberta Laux, Ag, Salem
Carolyn Briggs, Blind Commission, Portland
Lloyd Perez, BOLI, Portland
Dan McKay, DAS, Salem
Steve Walsh, DAS, Salem
Jim Beck, DCBS, Portland
Dianna Janowski, DCBS, Salem
Michael Elliott, Education, Salem
Karen Harrison, Education, Salem
Sam Ko, Education, Salem
Keary DeBeck, Justice, CCBC, Salem
Kathleen Lamar, Justice, CCBC, Salem
Nita Goss, Medical Board, Portland
Dolores Vance, OHCS, Salem
Mary Lang, PERS, Tigard
Susan Mundell, PERS, Tualatin
Flor Morales, Revenue, Salem
Jessyca Stafford, Revenue, Eugene
Ann Reed, State Library, Salem
Matthew Garrett, Teachers Standards & Practices, Salem
Leah Rickert, Veterans Affairs, Salem
Susan Douthit, Water Resources, Salem
Ronald Kohanek, Water Resources, Salem
Shawna Akin, SEIU 503 Staff
Veronica Miller, SEIU 503 Staff

Contact your Specials Bargaining Team at Specials@seiu503.org.

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Fighting to protect our rights!

In the face of proposed contract takeaways, your bargaining team pushed back. Management delivered the first package of proposals of this session.

Management proposes to:

  • Extend trial service for Appraiser Analysts at the Department of Revenue
  • Reject our proposal to use seniority for the assignment of overtime at the Department of Agriculture
  • Remove the employee recognition plan at DCBS and the Oregon Medical Board

The bargaining team reminded management that packaged proposals historically are used to group proposals of similar intent and purpose, as well as seek acceptance from both sides on some of those proposals. By rejecting management’s package and sending a balanced counter package back to them, your team sent a clear message that takeaway proposals alone, are not acceptable.

The Labor team again declined to accept longer trial service for employees, but was open to accepting management language allowing the accrual of compensatory time or being paid for vacation days on scheduled days off. In addition, we included an extensive proposal expanding education, training and professional development opportunities for the entire coalition.

Your bargaining team will be hard at work over the next few months to secure contract language that will ensure employees are treated fairly and get the recognition they deserve. Your feedback and participation are critical to the process. Please join us at the next bargaining session and remember to purple up on Wednesdays!!

Continue submitting your photos to our April 15 Photo Contest – open until April 30 at 5:00 pm. Click on VOTE to view the gallery of entries and “like” your favorites! The photo with the most “likes” will be featured in the winner’s local field office, and the winner will receive a framed, high-quality print of their photo.

In Unity,

The Specials Coalition Bargaining Team

Mary Stewart, Revenue, Eugene – Central Table
Sandi Kalin, DAS, Salem – Central Table
Mike Forrest, Ag, Salem
Roberta Laux, Ag, Salem
Carolyn Briggs, Blind Commission, Portland
Lloyd Perez, BOLI, Portland
Dan McKay, DAS, Salem
Steve Walsh, DAS, Salem
Jim Beck, DCBS, Portland
Dianna Janowski, DCBS, Salem
Michael Elliott, Education, Salem
Karen Harrison, Education, Salem
Sam Ko, Education, Salem
Keary DeBeck, Justice, CCBC, Salem
Kathleen Lamar, Justice, CCBC, Salem
Nita Goss, Medical Board, Portland
Dolores Vance, OHCS, Salem
Mary Lang, PERS, Tigard
Susan Mundell, PERS, Tualatin
Flor Morales, Revenue, Salem
Jessyca Stafford, Revenue, Eugene
Ann Reed, State Library, Salem
Matthew Garrett, Teachers Standards & Practices, Salem
Leah Rickert, Veterans Affairs, Salem
Susan Douthit, Water Resources, Salem
Ronald Kohanek, Water Resources, Salem
Shawna Akin, SEIU 503 Staff
Veronica Miller, SEIU 503 Staff

Contact your Specials Bargaining Team at Specials@seiu503.org.

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Specials Coalition Bargaining Update 3-6-2015

Working late into the night brings success for Specials

Conversation last night at the Specials bargaining table lasted well into the evening, which allowed for a lot of work to be completed. The bargaining team and management were able to agree on a number of Letters of Agreement. It was exciting to sign off on our first tentative agreements of the session! There was extensive discussion on the Medical Hardship Transfer proposal, and the team is hopeful management will return with a counter proposal soon.

Our bargaining team gave five proposals to management, while management presented a counter offer on increasing the number of stewards and a new proposal that would extend trial service for Appraiser Analysts at the Department of Revenue. The bargaining team will be discussing these items further.

Our next bargaining session is set for March 17, at the Salem SEIU office, beginning at 5:30 pm. All members are encouraged to attend and show their support for the bargaining team.

March 17 & 18 are statewide Days of Action. Plan on participating in a solidarity action in your worksite and sign the pledge card now that says you’ll be there.

Don’t forget to wear purple on Wednesdays!!

 

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Specials Coalition Kicks Off Bargaining!

The Specials Coalition Bargaining Team met with management for the first time last night. This initial meeting was short, but cordial. We exchanged ground rules for bargaining with management’s team and they were mutually agreed upon.

The teams held a brief discussion about our future bargaining dates. We are currently discussing the dates to ensure that all interests are being considered. Bargaining dates will be posted once they’re determined.

The best way to support bargaining right now is to join us for lobby days. Our first lobby day is an Economic Justice Lobby Day on February 24, where we’ll be fighting for a Fair Shot for All of us – visit the Fair Shot website for more information and to sign the petition.

Please support the Coalition team by attending bargaining nights. And, wear that purple on Wednesdays!

In Unity,

The Specials Coalition Bargaining Team

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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
PMAC@seiu503.org

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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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