SEIU helped create the Bargaining Unit Benefits Board, which oversaw health care benefits for our public employee members. We became national leaders in cost containment and protecting members’ pocketbooks from insurance rate hikes.
Biggest strike in Salem history
When lawmakers and the governor proposed a pay-cuts budget, more than 10,000 SEIU members took the streets, marching from the state fairgrounds to the state capitol. The seven-day walkout ended with a sit-in in Gov. Kitzhaber’s office. Ultimately we won and protected our pay and benefits.
Public Employee Benefits Board created
When the Legislature created PEBB in 1999, the public board that oversees health care benefits for all state and university employees, SEIU demanded that the board be made up of at least 50% union members and we won. SEIU also got the new Board to continue the model of fully paid family health care benefits. Today our representatives on PEBB work to ensure that workers are not unfairly burdened by rising health care costs.
Protecting COLAs and guaranteed annual credits
SEIU supported and helped fund the Oregon Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in the Strunk vs. PERB, which overturned some of the more egregious parts of the 2003 PERS reductions, including limits on COLAs.
Held the line against premium increases
When Regence Insurance came to PEBB proposing a huge premium increase for 2005, management members of the PEBB board wanted to pass those costs onto members. PEBB board labor members held the line and prevailed on Gov. Ted Kulongoski to live up to his commitment from 2003 bargaining to protect our health care.
Stopped deep cuts to health care benefits
Time and time again, SEIU members have prioritized protecting benefits and in 2010, we successfully stopped an effort to force major benefit cuts by upholding the State’s contractual commitment to fund up to a 10% increase in health care premiums.
A promise is a promise
After the legislature tried to retroactively cut cost of living increases for PERS retirees, SEIU helped to fight back. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled: you cannot cut benefits already earned, which was relief for retirees across the state.
Breaking even on the PERS pickup
SEIU successfully negotiated a 6.95% raise for State agency employees to replace the “6% PERS pickup,” to member’s Individual Account Program.” (The State had previously paid that.) “Buying out” the PERS pickup in this manner maintained employees’ take-home pay, protected employees from potential legislative attacks on the PERS pickup and enhanced retirement benefits for employees hired after August 2003 who were members of the OPSRP program.
More than 40 bills to cut benefits were stopped
Driven by a corporate PR campaign and powerful lobbyists, in the 2017 legislative session there were more than 40 bills to cut our retirement and health care benefits. SEIU members testified, wrote letters, lobbied their lawmakers and showed their strength. Not a single bill passed.