Local Government

Who we are…
Local government represented by SEIU Local 503 are employees of: Basin Transit System, Baker County Employees, City of Cannon Beach, Cannon Beach Police, Central Oregon Irrigation District, City of Pendleton, City of Beaverton, City of The Dalles Employees, City of Springfield, City of Tigard, Coos Bay/North Bend Water Board, City of Wilsonville, Curry County, Josephine County Roads, Jackson County, Linn County, Lane Council of Governments, and City of Ontario Police.

Two organizing victories: 130 new members join Local 503

Fernhill Estates nursing home workers

Nursing home workers at Fernhill Estates and temp workers at Marion County won organizing victories in the past week and became the newest members of SEIU Local 503.

With the addition of Fernhill, workers at 50 nursing homes and assisted living facilities are now members of Local 503! Fernhill workers are the 7th group of nursing home workers to organize this year. Fernhill workers organized for respect and fair wages. Many union members at Laurelhurst and Porthaven nursing homes who also work at Fernhill helped win this election victory.

Marion County temporary workers finally became part of our union after years of attempts and legal hurdles. About 100 temporary positions will now be part of the union at Marion County and workers will begin bargaining shortly. Pay equity and job security are two of their most pressing issues.

Many members helped on this campaign, including Sara Campos, Stacey Harp, Trish Straw, Charles Arnold, Kendra Stafford, Bernadine Newland, Steve Nerrow, Oscar Izaguirre, Mark Terrill and Roseanne O’Connor.

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Victory for Marion County workers!

A big congratulations to SEIU members at Marion County who reached a contract settlement on Wednesday!

The bargaining team struggled to overcome a contentious contract fight two years ago when tensions were high at the table and we were days away from striking. Most of this year’s team were new to negotiations, but they were excited to be involved and in many cases, were taking on their first role in our union. The team stayed stable and strong even as they lost and gained several team members in the first few months of negotiations.

Negotiations began last December. The bargaining team’s goals were to change the tenor at the table, mend relationships with the county, increase member involvement, organize the temps, and win a raise for all members. The path to settlement and the settlement itself accomplished all of their goals. Here are some of the highlights:
  • 3% COLA in first year, 1.5% COLA in second year
  • Maintain Health Care Premium Cap improves re-opener language from 8% to 4% over the Cap to trigger re-negotiations
  • Stops mandatory cash out of comp time. Members could accrue comp time but it was cashed out once per year. This practice ends and now members can carry comp time on the books until they decide to use it or they can chose to cash it out at anytime.
  • Increase shift differential from $.50 to $.75 per hour
  • Increase call back compensation from 2 hours to 3 hours
  • Improves flexing language to clarify that members can flex time if they are a few minutes late for work
  • Allows members who have 110 hours of sick leave on the books to transfer sick time to 3 personal days each year
  • Increase boot & rain-gear allowance for public works by $50
Although the contract is settled, the team will return to the table in a month or two to negotiate language for temporary workers, who are not currently represented but are organizing to join SEIU now.
MCEA Bargaining Team:
  • Sara Fillion
  • Stacey Harp
  • Cristina Martinez-Sandoval
  • Diana Mitzel
  • Erik Anderson
  • Janie Hanson
  • Leslie Polson
  • Trish Straw
  • Jeff Dolan
  • Tanika Dumas
  • Alma Garibay
  • Sam Perez
  • Chief Spokesperson, Keith Quick
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Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments Reaches Tentative Agreement!

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Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments (OCWCOG) members have a tentative agreement that they can celebrate with some major wins and language improvements. Thanks to the great work of the OCWCOG Bargaining team.

OCWCOG workers stood united for a fair contract by purpling up every week, purpling up their cubicles, packing the room during our bargaining sessions and creating an effective communication system within the Local.

This TA proves that their unity and hard work paid off! In the coming weeks members will be receiving ballots in the mail at their home address. The OCWCOG bargaining team urges a “Yes” vote.

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City of Tigard workers speak out for services

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Setbacks in Salem but the Fight Far from Over

This was not a great day in the Oregon House for public workers or the people we serve, but the fight for fairness in this legislative session is far from over.

First, Republican leaders and their allies in the “loophole lobby” derailed a bi-partisan effort to make big corporations and the wealthiest Oregonians to pay a bit more in taxes to produce $275 million in revenue to avoid service cuts. Then Senate Bill 822, which caps COLAs for many PERS recipients, passed the House and went to the governor for signing over our vehement opposition and avowed intention to challenge in court.

The PERS vote was 33-27. A number of those who voted YES — all Democrats — hated the bill but wanted to conclude the debate on PERS and move to focusing on funding the services our members provide. Most of those who voted no want to make even deeper cuts.

Like the PERS vote, the maneuvering over revenue was politically complex.  Pro-public service legislators succeeded in keeping the process moving forward by passing a greatly reduced version of the bill to extend the debate on funding vital services Oregonians rely on.

We are reminded once again of the power of big business to manipulate the political process to avoid paying its fair share. The original revenue bill started the day with bi-partisan support, but corporate lobbyists and the leaders they control compelled some House members to oppose the larger package.

The fight over revenue and against further PERS cuts now moves to the State Senate. Contact your Senator today to call for restoration of the full $275 million revenue package.

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Our chance for a say in the state budget

Over the last two months, hundreds of SEIU Local 503 members have traveled to Salem to tell legislators to protect services, find ways to save money, and ensure that big corporations and banks pay their fair share. You now have the opportunity to tell them the same thing when they come to your local area.

The Ways and Means Committee is coming to an area near you for feedback and input. The budget they propose is one that breaks a promise to workers by cutting PERS and reduces funding for seniors and disability services, but keeps tax loopholes and expenditures for big business.

Come tell your legislators: We need to hold the big banks accountable, not slash vital services for children and seniors.

Sign up to attend a public hearing in your area:

Friday, April 12 
Ed Ragozzino Performance Hall, Lane Community College
4000 East 30th Avenue, Eugene

Saturday, April 13 
Music Recital Hall, Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland

Friday, April 19 
William Healy Armory
875 SW Simpson Ave, Bend

Saturday, April 20 
Auditorium, Hermiston High School
600 S 1st St, Hermiston
(Live link available in other eastern Oregon locations, details pending)

Tuesday, April 23 
Moriarty Arts & Humanities Auditorium, Portland Community College, Cascades Campus
705 N. Killingsworth St., Portland

Thursday, April 25 
Officers Mess, Port of Tillamook Bay
6825 Officers Row, Tillamook

Sign up to attend a public hearing in your area

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Over 2,000 workers picket for a better path forward

This week, hundreds of SEIU 503 members from across Oregon took to the picket line to demand a change to the way Oregon does business.

Once again essential services for all Oregonians are on the chopping block as legislators attempt to balance the State budget on the backs of working people. Meanwhile, Oregon’s wealthiest and most profitable corporations continue to receive tax breaks—in fact, Oregon has the lowest corporate tax burden in the nation, tied with North Carolina. We cannot subsidize these corporations with the same tax dollars that should be going to our schools, healthcare and job creation.

Over 90 informational pickets where held at worksites throughout the state. Public workers carried signs, chanted and held conversations with passersby to share our priorities: preserving public services, allowing workers to retire with dignity, and holding bad actors accountable.

Keary DeBeck, an information specialist with the Department of Justice and co-chair of the bargaining team had this to say, “The deck may be stacked, but we know that there’s a better way forward. We’re using our collective bargaining power to advocate for all Oregonians: to recoup the money big banks stole from us, to stop out-of-control tax breaks for corporations, and to fund the vital services we all rely on. We’re all in it together for a better Oregon.”

Corporations and special interests would have everyone believe that the only answers is to continue to cut services for Oregonians, but SEIU 503 members have a different answer. We are advocating for:

  • Gov. Kitzhaber to fully staff key departments so that Oregonians get the services we need.
  • Gov. Kitzhaber to immediately end business relationships with the big banks until they return the money they stole from Oregon, and to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
  • The legislature to cut out-of-control tax breaks and make sure the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share.
  • The state to make every dollar count by maximizing efficiencies.

Send a message to your legislator today and tell them that we need a fair budget now!

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Fair budget now – Contact your Legislators today!

Oregon’s chief budget writers have gone way too far in balancing the budget on the backs of seniors, public workers and those we serve.

This is a first draft budget, with revisions to come in the months ahead. There is still a window of opportunity for us to effect change, but we must act on it now. Click here to send a message to your legislator.

Some budget specifics:

  • Budget writers call for $455 million of cuts in pensions for seniors and public employees and only $275 million in tax increases to fill the budget gap.
  • They do not specify any tax increases from the wealthy and big corporations who can afford to pay.
  • They plan on pension attacks that the courts (and the legislature’s own lawyers) have already deemed illegal, making a potential PERS cash infusion more like a payday loan, since it will have to be paid back with compound interest when the courts again rule it illegal.
  • They fail to tap into hundreds of millions of dollars of savings that are specifically set aside to meet the sort of short-term budget deficit the state is currently facing.

Despite its serious flaws, the co-chairs’ recommended budget is an improvement on the governor’s budget, which was built on zero tax increases for big corporations and the wealthy and nearly $1 billion in illegal PERS “savings.” The co-chairs are exploring ideas SEIU members generated that create more efficiency in public services. They have also fought for improved funding for the services our members provide and for our schools.

This budget does not reflect Oregon’s priorities. We cannot let the legislature knuckle under to the big corporations like US Bank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo that are part of the group leading the attack on seniors and public employees.

But this is just a first draft budget, with revisions to come in the months ahead. There is still a window of opportunity for us to effect change, but we must act on it now. Click here to send a message to your legislator.  If we don’t fight back now, things will only get worse.

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‘In It Together’: Members strategize at Eugene bargaining conference

DAS, OUS, Care Providers, and Local Government members from around the state packed the room at our SEIU 503 kick-off Bargaining Conference held Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 at the Valley River Center in Eugene.

DAS, OUS, Care Providers, and Local Government members from around the state packed the room at our SEIU 503 kick-off Bargaining Conference held Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 at the Valley River Center in Eugene.

About 400 members of SEIU Local 503 met in Eugene on Sunday, Jan. 27, to strategize around contract bargaining this year. After a welcome from President Rob Sisk, members heard from Executive Director Heather Conroy on “Our Strategy to Win” and from Political Director Arthur Towers on “Winning on Our Priorities Budget” in this legislative session.

A presentation of the “In It Together” team focused on historic wins in both the public-sector and care-provider sides and featured Rob Sisk as Gov. John Kitzhaber with participation by Marc Nisenfeld, Joy’e Willman, Joe Sheahan, Kim Cole, Patty Jones, Judy Byers and Carol Conlon.

Kristen Crowell, executive director of We Are Wisconsin, shared some political strategies to rebuild there in the wake of the unsuccessful recall of Gov. Scott Walker.

Following were sector breakouts to discuss a variety of bargaining proposals, with the conference wrapping up Sunday afternoon.

See more photos from the bargaining conference

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Governor tells CAPE, Board: He wants some taxes up, retiree PERS COLAs down

Governor Kitzhaber speaks to SEIU Local 503 members at the December 2012 CAPE meetingOn December 2, Governor John Kitzhaber unveiled a proposal to raise taxes by $170M to help pay for vital services our members provide, and for schools.

His proposal would hit wealthiest Oregonians the hardest by reducing by 5% the itemized deductions taxpayers could use. The Governor also reiterated his support for a 30% increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit which reduces taxes for low-wage families with kids.

The Governor made a brief presentation at the SEIU CAPE Council meeting, and then took a number of questions from union members.

Kitzhaber tackled the issue of PERS by explaining his decision to push for the reduction of cost-of-living adjustments for retirees who have above-average pensions, meaning those receiving more than $24,000/year. While stating that PERS is an “earned benefit” that workers have sacrificed to protect over the years, he was clear that he wants to balance the budget by, in part, reducing employer contributions to PERS.

This proposal, which would likely be found unconstitutional by the courts, creates a dangerous precedent of reducing promised benefit levels for workers who have earned those benefits and made the life decision to retire. The Governor thought this was a fair way to achieve significant savings to employers, but also stated his openness to other approaches. While he built in the continuation of the employer 6% pick up into the budget, he said that negotiations on this would be hard. The Governor also has pledged to end furloughs so that workers can get paid for a full year of work.

The Governor reiterated that health care is a much more significant cause of the state’s budget problems than PERS, and described his efforts to stop profiteering by the health care industry in order to pay for improved and expanded care for low-income Oregonians.

In response to questions regarding short-staffing, the Governor pointed to the proposal in his budget to hire 200 more workers to protect neglected and abused kids. Right now, two workers are trying to do the work of three in this area. The Governor also expressed support for increased staffing for care providers, especially in Employment Related Day Care, where he wants to expand subsidies to an additional 500 families. More than 2,000 SEIU members lost their jobs in 2011-12 in this field.

The Governor had a very strong response to issues around publicly-funded contractors engaging in union-busting, and expressed continued strong support for the right of workers to organize in emerging health care occupations like community health worker, and enhanced homecare worker positions.

Finally, the Governor was also very supportive of drivers’ licenses for non-citizens and for tuition equity for all Oregon high school graduates.

In the discussion after the Governor left, members expressed satisfaction, but some skepticism, with the Governor’s presentation and responses. There was a lot of positive response to increased funding for care providers, and for a progressive tax increase. There was also a general sense that the Governor showed union members a lot of respect and approached us as partners rather than adversaries. Clearly, there are going to be extremely tough fights with theGovernor in contract negotiations, and around PERS, but there were a number of areas of agreement as well.

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