DAS/OUS Healthcare (PEBB & HEM)

The following articles are to keep you up-to-date on the Health Engagement Model and other recent and anticipated changes to healthcare coverage administered by the Public Employees’ Benefits Board.

State Workers reach tentative agreement!

After back-to-back marathon bargaining sessions, our SEIU 503 State Worker Bargaining Team has reached a tentative agreement on our wage and benefit reopener!*

Together through our unity and actions we:

  • Held the line on healthcare by maintaining the 1% premium share for lower cost plans and 5% for costlier plans. This was a top priority for us, and we prevailed. Management was insisting on a 7% premium share until the final hours. We sent a clear message that we wouldn’t tolerate cost-shifting on healthcare.
  • Secured 2 normal step increases. Two years ago we pushed management to agree to a four-year contract, and we were able to secure steps for the length of the contract at that time. Having steps secured was pivotal to being able to push management in other priority areas like healthcare and a living wage for all workers.
  • Won a 1.85% cost-of-living raise on 6/15/18. After months of actions and lobbying in the capitol we were able to get $100M secured for state worker wages and benefits, which means we were able to secure steps and a meaningful cost-of-living raise despite a very challenging budget environment.
  • Established a minimum monthly salary of $2600, effective 6/15/18. After years of work on this, we can finally say that all state workers in Oregon make a living wage!
  • Negotiated increases to shift differentials, the creation of a multilingual differential, and other increases for specific classifications. More details on these wins will be on our website soon.

As you know, this bargaining process was coupled with a challenging legislative session where SEIU 503 members relentlessly lobbied and campaigned for increased funding across all state-provided services. Because SEIU 503 members made their voices heard in the capitol, we significantly lessened the impact of a $1.4 billion budget deficit. Among other things, our work led to the defeat of 40 bills attacking PERS retirement, doubled funds dedicated to state worker compensation to $100M, and helped realize the need for a modest but vital investment of $30 million to improve Oregon’s child welfare program.

At the bargaining table, the state’s initial offer included increasing employee premium share and no cost-of-living pay increases, but we insisted on holding the line. Unity among our members gave us the bargaining power to maintain healthcare, protect our retirement, and lift wages for everyone in this tentative agreement!

*UPDATE: On Sunday, July 30, 2017, SEIU 503’s Elected State Worker Bargaining delegates unanimously elected to recommend a YES vote on our wage and benefit tentative agreement. In the following weeks, we will hold a series of in-person ratification vote meetings at our largest worksites around the state, in addition to our traditional mail ratification vote. Full summaries of the contract changes will be available at these meetings and mailed to members.

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State Worker Bargaining Update: Legislative Proposals Would Be Devastating

We need to level with you.

Bargaining is proceeding normally, but we have zero hope of a fair contract and quality services unless the legislature adopts meaningful revenue reform. In the last few weeks, legislators have unveiled proposals that would hurt state workers and our communities, including restrictions around our healthcare and compensation, a 15% reduction in homecare hours for seniors and people with disabilities, and cuts even to Child Welfare services.

That’s where you come in. Members’ emails, phone calls, and in-person meetings with legislators have made it clear that balancing the budget on workers and vulnerable Oregonians’ backs while our state has the lowest corporate taxes in the nation is unacceptable.

Will you click here to send a message to your legislator right now?

So, where do we stand at the table?

While our proposals seek to make sure that every worker—from the senior, “topped out” worker to the new hire—has economic security, the state’s proposal doesn’t meet that standard.

Our Union Proposal Management’s Proposal to Us
Cost-of-living raises

July 1, 2017—2.5 to 4% based on consumer price index (CPI)

July 1, 2018—2.5 to 4% based on consumer price index (CPI)

No cost living increase in either year of contract
Steps Steps in each year of the contract Steps in each year of the contract
Longevity Reward employees who are have been at the top step of their salary range for at least 5 years, or who have been in continuous State service for 15 or more years, with an additional 4.5% longevity differential. None
Health Insurance

Maintain current plan:

1% premium share for lower-cost plans

5% premium share for costlier plans

Establish 7% premium share for costlier plans
Salary Floor Minimum monthly salary of $2600/mo None

This week we also had presentations from various groups of workers who are proposing classification-specific increases (selectives). We also made proposals to expand and clarify shift differentials.

Again, your calls and emails to legislators have an impact. Please visit keeporegonspromise.org to learn more and take action.

Also, mark your calendars for a statewide Day of Action on May 18: Plan a march, a picket, a unity break, a phone bank to your legislator.

Questions? Feedback?  Please reach out to your organizer, or you can always email the bargaining team at stateworkerbargaining@seiu503.org.

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State Worker Bargaining Update: Better wages for quality services

Yesterday, we started negotiations with an opening statement by our union’s Executive Director, Brian Rudiger. He described our desire for fair wages and benefits, the diversity of our membership, and our commitment to provide quality services and build strong communities across Oregon.

Here are the union and management opening proposals:

Our Union Proposal Management’s Proposal to Us
Cost-of-living raises

July 1, 2017 — 2.5 to 4% based on consumer price index (CPI)

July 1, 2018 — 2.5 to 4% based on consumer price index (CPI)

No cost living increase in either year of contract
Steps Steps in each year of the contract Steps in each year of the contract
Health Insurance Maintain current plan:
1% premium share for lower cost plans
5% premium share for costlier plans
Establish 7% premium share for costlier plans
Longevity Reward employees who are “topped out” None
Salary Floor Minimum monthly salary of $2600/mo None

The state’s proposal also reinforces why our bargaining team pushed to protect steps for four years and buy out the PERS pick-up in our 2015 bargaining: for all other state workers, management is now proposing a one-year step freeze with a small cost-of-living adjustment, and a buy-out of the PERS pick-up at only 6% (as opposed to the 6.95% we won in 2015).

The proposal on the table from the state is insufficient and does nothing to address the needs of the state workforce. It is important to note that Management’s proposal is contingent on the legislature passing Governor Brown’s recommended allocation for state employee compensation. With a $1.6 billion shortfall, we can’t sit back and expect a better budget to materialize. The best way to ensure a good contract and quality services is to contact your legislator right now or sign-up to participate in a Lobby Day.

Our next bargaining sessions are April 25th and 26th.

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State Workers ratify contract

We are excited to announce that 95 percent of voting state worker members said YES to ratify their new contract! This means that all provisions of the contract will go into effect as soon as both sides sign the new agreement. This includes the day after Thanksgiving as a new holiday this November!

Speaking with one voice on holding the line on health care is an example of collective action making a real difference. Together, we participated in statewide info pickets, held unity breaks, signed petitions for a fair contract, and talked to managers about the importance of a fair deal. We held the line on the 95 percent/5percent premium share and expanded the number of plans at a 99 percent/1percent premium share. Click here for a complete summary of contract changes.

At the same time we were voting on historic gains in our contract, there was an attack on our ability to collectively work for such gains. The far-right, conservative, anti-worker, Washington-based Freedom Foundation announced its intention to “make life miserable” for our union. They filed a suit aimed at taking away our voice to advocate for better working conditions and quality services through our union. Now, more than ever, it’s critical we tell groups like this that we stand united in our efforts to lift our members and all working people, no matter their attacks. In our contract vote, thousands of us committed to each other to stand united. If you haven’t already, please take a moment and click here to recommit to stand with your union sisters and brothers.

While our contract has been ratified, Higher Ed workers continue to have an unfair health care offer, anemic cost of living adjustments and take aways on the table. Please show your solidarity and stand with Higher Ed workers: click here to sign the support petition – so we can show we are truly in it together.

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State Workers reach contract settlement

State Worker Barg Team 031815Our member-elected SEIU 503 state worker bargaining team has reached a tentative agreement with the state!

Highlights include:

  • We more than held the line on healthcare. Starting in January 2016, we will move closer to fully paid healthcare: Most plans will go to a 99 percent/1 percent premium share, while the most expensive plans will stay at 95 percent/5 percent.
  • There will be a 1.48 percent cost-of-living raise on December 1, 2015 and a 2.75 percent cost-of-living raise on December 1, 2016.
  • Retirement security for all state workers. Protecting PERS has consistently been a top priority for our members. After a great deal of work by our bargaining team, the State agreed to buy out the 6 percent pick-up on 11/1/16. For more information on how the buy-out of the pick up will work, see our FAQ or video.
  • The day after Thanksgiving will be a new holiday for everyone! We’ve emphasized with the state over the last several bargaining cycles the importance of work/life balance and the work our members do in their communities. Our team landed on an extra holiday, which will give people more time with family and community.
  • We agreed to a four-year contract, which means that step increases are secured for the next four years. We will bargain again in two years only on differentials, cost-of-living adjustments, and health insurance. This will allow us to focus on workplace issues and work toward a 2017-2019 state budget that lifts up everyone by adequately funding services for all Oregonians and fair wages and benefits for workers.
  • Click here for complete summary of the tentative agreement.

On Saturday, July 18, our elected bargaining delegates will meet to review the tentative agreement and make a ratification recommendation. If you are interested in attending the conference, click here for the details and registration. Following the bargaining conference, we will hold a series of in-person ratification vote meetings at our largest worksites and in regional meetings around the state, in addition to our traditional mail ratification vote. Full summaries of the contract changes will be available at these meetings and mailed to members.

State workers have said very clearly these last few months that we won’t go backward on healthcare. Healthcare was the issue at the heart of the strike vote in 2013; because of state workers standing strong, we are moving forward. Our unity on issues like healthcare—along with our work electing allies who are willing to join us to make sure everyone has a Fair Shot—gave us the bargaining power to gain ground on healthcare, protect our retirement, and lift wages for everyone!

Congratulations to all state workers on reaching a strong tentative agreement!

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PERS pick-up buyout proposal FAQ

**Updated November 30, 2016**

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 did we reach a tentative agreement on?

Rather than the state continuing to “pick up” the 6 percent by paying it directly into our PERS accounts, beginning Nov1, 2016, these funds will 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” will be covered by an additional .95 percent paid by the state into the employee’s pay. While this will increase employee’s base wages by 6.95 percent, the intent of the buyout is to be zero cost to employees.


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).

Will this affect my take-home pay?

If you receive a shift or other differential, work overtime, or made other changes to your deductions you may be seeing an increase in take home pay.

It’s also possible that you’ll see a slight decrease in take-home pay if you participate in voluntary payroll deductions that are based on overall gross pay, which will increase. Examples of these voluntary, percentage-based contributions include the Oregon Savings Growth Plan, Long Term Disability, and Short Term Disability. If you participate in these types of programs, you are likely to see an increase in these deductions and ultimately the relevant benefits. In some instances, you can adjust the deduction to increase your take home pay. (This question was updated 11/30/2016)

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.

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 recognized the time was right for winning this proposal. 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. Maintaining a secure retirement has remained a high priority when our members fill out bargaining surveys.

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. In our tentative agreement, we start picking up the additional 6.95% on Nov. 1, 2016.

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, and vacation payouts would benefit. For example, if you make $40,000 a year and received a 5% pay differential, your differential would be calculated off of a 6.95% higher base wage resulting in an $11.58/month increase before taxes. Under the same $40,000 a year scenario, every hour of overtime would increase by $2.01 before taxes. 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 go up $3.94 per month.

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 November 30, 2016, 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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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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Two big wins for state and university workers put money in members’ pockets!

Exciting news: two more wins coming out of our 2013 contract campaigns with the State and OUS!

As you know, healthcare has been and will likely continue to be a major point of contention in contract negotiations. In 2013, our bargaining teams negotiated two key provisions that would not only hold the line, but begin to regain some of the lost ground around healthcare. Today, we’re happy to report these victories have been realized:

1) Reducing the 5% premium share down to 3% for those members who select the lowest cost plan in their area, even if there’s only one plan to choose from. This necessitated at least 95% of members having more than one plan to choose from, and PEBB’s recent plan selections made this a reality. Not only does this put more money in members’ pockets but it also expands healthcare choices for members in rural Oregon. Click here to see which plan has the lowest costs in your county. (updated 7/30/2014, pdf download)

2) Moving up the effective date of the next cost-of-living raise (COLA) if healthcare costs come in below projections. Based on the rates recently adopted by PEBB, it now looks like the effective date of the COLA will be moved up at least to September 2014 (instead of the originally planned 12/1/14). We expect to know the exact effective date within the next week and will keep you updated.

More information on these provisions can be found in the State worker contract Article 31 and the OUS worker contract Article 21 and Article 24.

These victories were possible because of the great power of members coming together to push for fairness, and from the aggressive and strategic work of our PEBB representatives in advocating for better healthcare quality and pricing. And none of this would have been possible without our strong voice in the Capitol, powered by the Citizen Action for Political Education (CAPE) program. Please click here to contribute to CAPE to strengthen our voice and enable future healthcare victories.

At a time when public sector workers are suffering enormous roll-backs to their healthcare, it’s exciting to see that we can work on positive solutions that bring down costs and share those savings with front-line workers.

In Solidarity,

Heather Conroy, SEIU 503 Executive Director
Keary DeBeck, State Worker Bargaining Co-Chair
Marc Nisenfeld, OUS Worker Bargaining Chair
Dan Smith, State Worker Bargaining Co-Chair

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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 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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