Today the vote for SEIU’s unionization of Personal Support Workers was held.
Final tally per the Employment Relations Board is 1,873 to 772. This means that Personal Support Workers are now set to be represented by SEIU and arbitration is expected to begin shortly.
A Personal Support Worker is defined in House Bill 3618. The majority of domestic employees and independent contractors working with brokerage customers will be affected.
Of a potential voting population of 9,000, just 30% voted. The union won the majority of votes cast.
Those affected include the majority of domestic employees and independent contractors performing services listed in House Bill 3618. This affects brokerage providers as well as those working with the Community Developmental Disabilities Programs and some mental health programs.
The Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 3618 during the February 2010 special session. This bill was signed into law. HB 3618 is directed to “Personal Support Workers” who are defined as persons who are hired by the client or the client’s family or guardian and paid by public funds. We have historically referred to these workers as Domestic Employees in the brokerage system. For reference purposes, this bill can be viewed at: http://www.leg.state.or.us/10ss1/measpdf/hb3600.dir/hb3618.en.pdf
The bill changed the employee designation so that they became eligible for workers’ compensation as of January 1, 2011. The Oregon Home Care Commission (OHCC) has arranged for Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage and will facilitate the processing of Workers’ Compensation claims on behalf of the client/employer. SAIF Corporation is the workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
Because of House Bill 3618, Independence Northwest and other brokerages became legally mandated to give a list of all the domestic employees working with our customers to the State of Oregon Department of Human Services, who in turn were mandated to give this list to anyone interested in organizing this group of workers into a union. This occurred in October of 2010 and SEIU has legitimately acquired domestic employee names, phone numbers and addresses. We informed customers of this happening about the same time.
Presently, domestic employees should not be surprised when individuals or groups of individuals from SEIU knock on your door. You have every right to sit down with the representatives of SEIU and discuss the benefits of unionization. You also have the right to refuse to talk to them.
When representatives from SEIU visit with you, you may be asked to sign a union card. If enough domestic employees working with brokerage customers sign a card (30% of the total number of workers) then there will be a vote in which all domestic employees working with brokerage customers will get to decide if they want a union or not. The choice is yours and yours alone.
Independence Northwest has chosen to hold a public neutral stance on organizing efforts. We cannot advise you on whether or not to sign a union card.
House Bill 3618, the legislation designed to include individuals hired by people with developmental disabilities and mental illness or their families into the Home Care Commission, was passed during the last week of the February Legislative Session. The bill will provide worker’s compensation, training, and a registry for personal support workers beginning in January 2011.
Additionally, the bill would allow for organizing of workers and possible unionization after 2011. The fiscal impact for 2009-2011 is $1 million; for 2011-2013 the fiscal for the workers compensation, training, and registry is projected to be $2.5 million GF (State of Oregon General Fund dollars). This does not include the cost of possible collective bargaining if the workforce chooses to unionize.
More information forthcoming on this important change.