Who we are…
SEIU Local 503 represents more than 20,000 homecare workers in the state of Oregon. Close to 12,500 workers care for seniors and people with physical disabilities, and 7,500 care for people with developmental disabilities, mental health needs and medically fragile children.

Homecare bargaining update: On the brink of a huge victory

18772591978_2dd2e606a5_kYour member-elected SEIU 503 bargaining team was at the table until 4am on Monday pushing for a fair contract that protects services for clients and lifts wages for providers.

We have secured legislative funding to protect and expand services and hours for the people we serve—and we believe that we are now on the brink of winning a path to $15 per hour for care providers. This would be a historic victory on top of the gains we’ve already won this year, including improving the Paid Time-Off benefit and access to a retirement savings plan.

The fact that we’re so close to this historic win has caught the attention of out-of-state special interests that will do anything they can to undercut our work. The Freedom Foundation, a multi-million dollar anti-union and anti-public service worker pressure group, has been taking out newspaper and radio ads, and recently started spam mailing homecare workers, asking workers to drop our membership. Click here to learn more about the Freedom Foundation’s actions in Washington State.

Why would they do this? The Freedom Foundation operatives have a long track record of undermining public leaders and workers who believe in vital public services. They want to destroy our union because they have seen that when we join our voices and resources together, we have been incredibly effective at improving and expanding services.

They claim you have nothing to lose by resigning your membership. The truth is, you have everything to lose. It’s easy to forget how about a decade ago many providers were paid less than minimum wage. We and those we care for were without a voice in the Legislature. In union, we’ve raised base wages to $13.75; we’ve protected dignity, autonomy, and choice for our consumers. Through our union, we’ve won benefits like healthcare, paid time off, and professional development—and it’s all happened because workers like us have chosen to join together in our union.

Our next bargaining session is August 4. Stay tuned as we continue to work hard together to finish up our bargaining work.

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Homecare funding is under attack

In the last few weeks, the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that we are facing a $140 million shortfall in funding services. Unless legislators act, our consumers could face significant cuts in services.

SEIU members have been working hard to stop the cuts. From taking time to share personal stories with their legislators to speaking out at regional hearings, SEIU members are making the difference by highlighting common-sense ways to both protect funding for our services and to balance the state budget. We have from now until the end of June to convince state legislators to make the right decisions for our consumers and our communities!

Key concerns:

1.      $140 Million in cuts to services. We need to make sure we do everything we can to stop cuts and continue investing in seniors and people with disabilities.
2.      50 hour-per-week cap. DHS is proposing significant changes to the live-in program and a weekly hour limit for workers. This change could have very bad consequences for high-need consumers, and could seriously impact families’ ability to find quality care providers.
3.      Wages and benefits. Currently, DHS is proposing no new investment for cost-of-living increases for wages or benefits, as well as an up-to 40 percent rate cut for providers known as “independent contractors” and “job coaches.” We can’t fall backward, and we need to recruit and retain quality care providers! We sent a clear message that this regressive proposal is unfair and wrong. For more information on bargaining, click here to view a side-by-side comparison of opening proposals.

We need your help if we want to both protect services for our consumers and invest in workers. Click here to learn how you can help support our efforts.

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Homecare worker bargaining: Opening proposals

The chart below shows the opening proposals for each side. Our goals are to raise standards for workers and to protect access to services for our consumers!

Wages to recruit and retain quality providers
  • Base rate: We are pushing for a pathway to $15 per hour by the end of the contract.
  • We are proposing fair cost-of-living increases for all providers already earning above $13.75 per hour.
  • Wage freeze for the majority of providers.
  • The State proposed up to a 40 percent rate cut for providers known as “Independent Contractors” and “Job Coaches.” We sent a clear message that this regressive proposal is unfair and wrong.
Fair Labor Standards With the extension of the Fair Labor Standards Act to cover homecare workers, our team proposed:

  • Overtime for all hours worked above 40 per week.
  • Paid travel time between consumers’ homes.
  • Health and safety hour limitations: Any hourly worker hired after July 1, 2015, can work no more than 60 hours per week.
  • The State proposed a 50 hour-per-week cap for workers (except for APD live-in providers). This is concerning given the workforce shortages our state is facing.
  • No proposal to pay overtime, despite putting forward a weekly hour cap.
Retirement security Proposing the State set up a new voluntary retirement plan to give providers a secure way to save for retirement. The State has not yet responded to our proposal.
Paid time off We have proposed expanding the Paid Time Off benefit to five days a year for qualified hourly workers. The State has not yet responded to our proposal.
Hold bad employers accountable
When large corporations pay their workers poverty wages and no benefits, Oregon taxpayers foot the bill. The State should make these corporations pay their fair share, so more of our state revenue can go toward funding services and less toward subsidizing big corporations. The State has not yet responded to our proposal.


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DON’T TURN YOUR BACK On Seniors & People with Disabilities

Today, hundreds of people from all over the state are in the State Capitol in Salem for “Don’t Turn Your Back” Lobby Day, meeting with legislators about the importance of supporting seniors and people with disabilities and those who care for them.

After basic funding needs are met, an additional investment of $27.96 million is needed to give seniors, people with disabilities, and their caregivers the support they deserve. But a looming budget shortfall this biennium could mean deep cuts to the very services that low-income Oregon seniors, people with disabilities and their caregivers depend on.

Email your legislators today to tell them that underfunding critical services would be turning our backs on seniors, people with disabilities, and the hard-working people who care for them.

Take five minutes to email your legislators NOW!


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Homecare workers: Tell us why retirement security matters

SEIU 503 homecare workers provide critical services for senior and people with disabilities, but many have no pathway to retirement. This means many care providers are at risk of living in poverty at retirement – unable to cover basic living and medical expenses.

One of our top priorities for Homecare bargaining this year is to win access to retirement savings system. There are currently two bills moving through the Legislature (House Bill 2960 and Senate Bill 621) that would create the Oregon Retirement Savings Plan. This would be an automatic, portable and secure way for all Oregonians to save the money they earn.

At our most recent bargaining session with the State we proposed that if either of these legislative bills become law, that Homecare workers should have the ability to participate in this new savings plan through automatic payroll deductions.

What can you do to help? We need workers like you to share your story about why having access to a retirement savings plan is important to you. We need to make sure that Legislators hear from voters like you about why they should support House Bill 2960 and Senate Bill 621.

Click here to share your story about why access to Retirement Security for Homecare Workers is important!

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Update for PSW Independent Contractors

Update regarding work done coming out of the PSW-Independent Contractor Workgroup:

This workgroup came out of our 2013-2015 contract with the charge of making recommendations on requirements and certification for PSW Independent Contractors (PSW-ICs).  The workgroup members included PSW-ICs, representatives of ODDS, OHCC, brokerages and other stakeholders.

During the workgroup, brokerage representatives shared that they were no longer qualifying new PSW-ICs due to liability concerns because some PSW-ICs successfully filed and won unemployment claims. This issue had existed prior to providers joining SEIU, but has been amplified by all of the great gains we’ve made like protecting rates from big cuts, access to health insurance, paid time off and more. We wanted to avoid a situation where the pool of workers shrunk over time and became irrelevant.

Due to the concerns around liability and not qualifying new PSW-ICs, the workgroup spent a lot of time reviewing the various definitions of an Independent Contractor to see if it still correctly applied. Many members of the workgroup felt that PSW-ICs didn’t correctly fit the definition of an Independent Contractor. Our main concern was what would happen if all current PSW-ICs were re-qualified. If they didn’t fit the legal definition of an IC, what would that mean?

Our primary goals in the workgroup were to make sure the important work done by PSW-ICs was protected, and valued as an important service with fair compensation. Instead of focusing on the definition of an IC, which most providers may not meet, we suggested exploring a new provider/worker classification. Something akin to a Skills Development Specialist. The other option for people who wouldn’t want to fall under this new classification is getting access to resources and support to explore becoming a Provider Organization (Click for full workgroup report)

At this point the workgroup report is only a recommendation for the upcoming bargaining and any changes would have to be negotiated. So nothing could change until that process is complete. Over the past few weeks your bargaining team has been reviewing the report and thinking through next steps, including having an opportunity to hear from you. We will be holding a meeting the last week of March (time/location will come in a follow-up email). In the mean time, if you have questions please contact coombesk@seiu503.org.


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Important update about paid time off for Personal Support Workers

As a part of our 2013-2015 union contract, we won new state funding to establish paid time off through our Homecare Trust. We were excited to start this benefit starting February 1st 2015. Unfortunately, the Oregon Department of Human Services Office of Developmental Disabilities (ODDS)  has failed to release the funds to our Homecare Trust in time for the February roll-out. Our union has taken legal action against ODDS on this matter and we feel confident that it will be resolved soon and the funds will be made available for us to move forward on our paid time off benefit.

We will keep you updated over the coming weeks about when we expect the paid time-off benefit to go live. We are so proud of what we have accomplished over the last two years together—from expanding services and hours to the people we serve, to wage increases, to healthcare, dental, vision and an employee assistance program—and now paid time off. None of this was even given to us by accident, it takes all of us being members of our union, volunteering our time and always fighting for what’s right for the people we serve and for us as care providers.

In it together,

Rebecca Sandoval
Care Provider, Medford
President of our Homecare and Personal Support Worker Union SEIU 503

P.S.- We also wanted to share some new training videos on the eXPRS billing system that the State has recently released.  Click here to watch the videos: http://www.seiu503.org/2015/01/training-videos-for-personal-support-workers-on-exprs/.

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Training videos for Personal Support Workers on eXPRS

ODDS created these YouTube videos to help train providers on the electronic billing system called eXPRS. ODDS will also be offering more in-person trainings on eXPRS over the coming months.

PSW eXPRS Training Part 1: (general info on the transition to eXPRS)

Screenshot 2015-01-30 09.32.58









PSW eXPRS Training Part 2: (how PSWs submit billing data in eXPRS)

Screenshot 2015-01-30 09.34.07







Full training playlist:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lx3JXCxXObY&list=PLsrX1nc_gB0qnjeNC9bp_4cHgOWWoI05k


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Update: DHS proposed cap on hours and changes to live-in program

Dear fellow care providers,

Recently the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) proposed new policy concepts relating to a proposed cap on Homecare Workers’ hours and changes to live-in program for consumers in the Aging and Physical Disability (APD) program. These changes are being proposed to keep program costs within the state budget.

We will be working on this issue over the next few months, and we need to hear from you: What are your concerns about the State’s proposal? Please click here to share your thoughts and story with us.

Overview of the new DHS proposalsclick here for more information on these proposals:

  1. Cap on Hourly Workers: DHS is proposing a cap of 52 hours per week—up from 40 before—for all hourly workers (not live-in workers).
  2. Travel Time between Service Recipients: DHS is proposing that our new travel time paid between consumers’ homes and mileage cannot exceed more that 10% of hours paid per week.
  3. Changes to the APD Live-in Program: DHS is proposing multiple changes to the live in program. First consumers in the live-in program who need fewer than 12 hours a day of services and have fewer than 135 hours per month of 24-hour availability—be moved into the hourly program (no longer be in the live-in program). For these workers, all ADL and IADL hours would instead be paid at the $13/hr rate (no longer $6.50/ hr).
  4. Emergency Overtime Concept: This DHS policy option would apply for consumers who need 12-24 hours of services a day.

Many of these proposed policy changes cannot be legally implemented by the State without first bargaining with our Union. We will be doing this over the next few months as we start bargaining and our work at the state capitol—and we need to hear from you to win the best agreement possible.

Please click here to share your thoughts on these important issues!

In unity,

Rebecca Sandoval

Live-In Care Provider, Medford

President of the Homecare & Personal Support Workers’ Union

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Important: OHP Renewal Letters

Dear Homecare/Personal Support Worker,

If you received a renewal letter from the Oregon Health Plan that stated your coverage is scheduled to end on December 31, 2014 please reach out to us right away for enrollment assistance. If you no longer qualify for the Oregon Health Plan and you are currently a Trust eligible participant, you may qualify for benefits through the Trust.

If you received this letter, please call your SEIU Healthcare Enrollment team at 1-855-437-2694 right away so that you do not lose health coverage.

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