The PSU-AAUP Executive Council met on March 7, 2019 to consider bills from our Legislative Committee and took the following positions:
Relating to collective bargaining.
Requires public employer to grant reasonable paid time to public employee who is designated representative to engage in certain activities. Requires public employer, upon request by exclusive representative, to authorize release time to designated representative of exclusive representative. Authorizes public employer and exclusive representative to negotiate and enter into agreements regarding release time. Entitles designated representative to be restored to same position after conclusion of release time. Requires public employer to provide exclusive representative reasonable access to employees in appropriate bargaining unit. Requires employers to provide employee contact information to exclusive representative within certain time limits. Permits public employer to deduct dues, fees and assessments from salary and wages of public employee who has authorized deduction. Requires employer to pay amounts deducted to labor organization. Expands definition of “employment relations” to include labor organization access to represented employees. Makes use of public employer’s electronic mail for certain activities related to authorization of deduction for payment to labor organization, employer attempts to influence employee to resign from or decline membership in labor organization, employer’s encouragement of employee to revoke authorization for deduction for payment to labor organization and provision of certain personally identifiable information about public employees within bargaining unit to entity other than exclusive representative unfair labor practices.
Rationale: HB 2016 is a pro-labor bill designed to require paid release time, expanded access to new employees, and protection of dues and fee deduction. This bill will help unions where these protections don’t exist in Collective Bargaining Agreements.
Relating to labor organization representation.
Requires public employer to provide exclusive bargaining representative reasonable access to new employees in appropriate bargaining unit within 90 days of employee becoming part of bargaining unit. Clarifies ways that employer may provide reasonable access. Prohibits employer from requiring employee to attend or participate in part of orientation, presentation or other meeting that is reserved for exclusive representative to present or communicate information about exclusive representative. Permits employees who are not union members to voluntarily consent to make in-lieu-of-dues payment to labor organization for organization’s representation of nonmember employees in employment relations with public employer. Prohibits compulsory payments to labor organizations by nonmember employees. Makes certain actions unfair labor practices. Provides that labor organization’s charging certain employees reasonable fees and costs for representation that is unrelated to negotiation of collective bargaining agreement is not unfair labor practice. Allows deduction from salary or wages of nonmember employee for payment to labor organization upon employee’s voluntary, written consent authorizing deduction.
Rationale: HB 3009 is another pro-labor bill that furthers protections for access to new employees and spells out the possibility of non-members paying voluntary fees to support union’s work.
Proposing amendment to Oregon Constitution relating to use of excess revenue.
Proposes amendment to Oregon Constitution that establishes Personal Investment in Education Fund in State Treasury and directs that moneys determined to be excess revenues under excess revenue “kicker” process be deposited in fund rather than refunded to personal income taxpayers. Dedicates moneys in fund to support kindergarten through grade 12 education with priority given to seismic rehabilitation grant program and student behavioral health counseling. Requires three-fifths majority vote of members of each house of Legislative Assembly for appropriation of moneys in fund. Refers proposed amendment to people for their approval or rejection at special election held on same date as next primary election.
Rationale: SJR23 would send a referendum to the ballot to remove the personal “kicker.” The presence of the kicker produces much of our budget shortfall. Removing the kicker would accomplish much of the work of raising revenue and allow K-12 education to be better funded, opening up additional dollars for higher education and other public services. SJR23 is similar to other bills we’ve supported this session that aim to eliminate the kicker.
Relating to family medical leave benefits; prescribing an effective date; providing for revenue raising that requires approval by a three-fifths majority.
Creates family and medical leave insurance program to provide employee who is eligible for coverage with portion of wages while employee is on family and medical leave or military family leave. Requires employer and employee contributions to fund program. Allows self-employed individuals and tribal government employers to opt into program. Directs Director of Department of Consumer and Business Services to determine contribution amounts and weekly benefit amounts. Establishes Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund and continuously appropriates moneys in fund to Department of Consumer and Business Services for purposes of Act. Protects eligible employee’s position of employment with employer while employee is on leave if employee has been employed with employer for minimum of 90 days before commencing leave. Prohibits employer from retaliating against employee who invokes program and from interfering with employee rights under program. Establishes right of employee for civil action for certain employer violations. Amends Oregon family leave law to allow for leave after employee has been employed for 90 days with employer and to extend length of leave taken for bereavement. Directs department to administer collection of, and reporting requirements for, payroll contributions. Requires director to work with other agencies and promulgate rules for administration of program. Establishes requirements for director to submit initial report to interim committees of Legislative Assembly no later than September 15, 2021. Beginning September 15, 2022, requires director to report to committees on September 15 of every even-numbered year thereafter. Requires department to conduct study regarding implementation of program with regard to self-employed individuals and tribal governments opting into program. Becomes operative on January 1, 2021. Provides that eligibility provisions and provisions related to elective coverage for self-employed individuals and tribal governments become operative on January 1, 2023. Takes effect on 91st day following adjournment sine die.
Rationale: HB 3031 would create a family and medical leave insurance program that would greatly benefit workers, especially those without existing paid leave in their contracts. We joined the coalition in support of this work last year and now recommend an endorsement of the bill.
Relating to post-secondary student financial aid; declaring an emergency.
Directs Higher Education Coordinating Commission to establish Oregon work study pilot program to assist post-secondary students. Sunsets program on January 2, 2023. Directs commission to conduct study on post-secondary students’ access to basic necessities and submit report to interim committees of Legislative Assembly related to higher education no later than September 15, 2020. Declares emergency, effective July 1, 2019.
Rationale: HB 3038 would expand work study opportunities through a pilot program. Doing so would expand SNAP benefit eligibility to more students in an effort to reduce student food insecurity. The program is a relatively low cost effort to help provide greater security for our students.
Relating to higher education financial aid.
Extends maximum period Oregon Opportunity Grant may be renewed from equivalent of four full-time undergraduate years to equivalent of six full-time undergraduate years. Authorizes Higher Education Coordinating Commission to award additional moneys to Oregon Opportunity Grant recipients who can demonstrate that they experienced new economic hardship after grant was awarded.
Rationale: HB3070 extends Oregon Opportunity Grant eligibility to 6 years. This acknowledges the reality of undergraduate education, which often takes more than 4 years and also aims to help completion for this population.
Relating to deductions made by public employers.
Prohibits terms of collective bargaining agreement from requiring public employee who has withdrawn membership from labor organization from continuing to pay member dues or continuing to authorize public employer to deduct dues from salary of employee. Permits employee to revoke authorization for public employer to make deductions for payment of dues to labor organization.
Rationale: HB3072 would put the prohibition on fair share fees into Oregon law. While it’s unlikely that the Janus decision will be reversed at the federal level anytime soon, there’s no need to codify its impact in Oregon law. Furthermore HB3072 contains provisions that may open up challenges to unions with drop windows and other maintenance of membership practices, depending on the application and interpretation.
Relating to coverage of family members under state-sponsored health benefit plans; prescribing an effective date.
Permits duplicate health benefit plan coverage for public employees. Deletes provision requiring Oregon Educators Benefit Board to use payment methodologies in self-insured health benefit plans offered by board that are designed to limit growth in per-member expenditures for health services to no more than 3.4 percent per year. Deletes provision requiring Oregon Educators Benefit Board to adopt policies and practices designed to limit annual increase in premium amounts paid for contracted health benefit plans to 3.4 percent. Takes effect on 91st day following adjournment sine die.
Rationale: HB3075 would essentially undo 2017 legislation that aimed to control costs for public employee health insurance. Further review has suggested that the cost savings would be unlikely to materialize in significant ways. However the removal of double would place a burden on families who have previously taken advantage of duplicate coverage. Since the bill aims to improve coverage for our members, we are supportive.
Relating to the Oregon Public Service Retirement Plan.
Provides that persons employed by participating public employers may not become members of pension program or individual account program of Oregon Public Service Retirement Plan on or after January 1, 2020.
Rationale: HB3128 is a significant attack on public employee retirement benefits.
Relating to disclosure of information by post-secondary institutions of education.
Requires each post-secondary institution of education that operates in Oregon and enrolls students who receive federal financial aid or state financial aid to provide specified data on current and former students to Higher Education Coordinating Commission. Requires commission to make data publicly accessible in easy to understand format.
Rationale: HB3142 would allow for greater understanding of the distribution of need based aid, opening up efforts to better support students.
Relating to student loans; prescribing an effective date.
Establishes Dreamers Access Program to award student loans to eligible students with demonstrated financial need. Provides that maximum amount of loan per student may not exceed $10,000 per academic year or aggregate total of $50,000. Requires Higher Education Coordinating Commission to administer program by rule. Establishes Dreamers Access Program Fund. Continuously appropriates moneys to commission for purpose of awarding loans and administering program. Requires commission to file annual report with Legislative Assembly stating dollar amount of each loan awarded under program and number of students who received loan under program during previous academic year. Requires commission to file annual report with Legislative Assembly stating total amount of moneys within fund, total amount of moneys appropriated or otherwise provided to fund during current biennium by Legislative Assembly and commission’s annual administrative costs for administering program. Takes effect on 91st day following adjournment sine die.
Rationale: HB3204 would make financial aid, via state offered loans, accessible to undocumented students with demonstrated financial need. Doing so furthers our effort to make higher education accessible to this group. The bill is a priority for the Oregon Student Association, our Higher Education Coalition allies.
Relating to union representation for public employees.
Prohibits union security agreements between public employer and union. Permits public employees to choose not to join union or pay union dues. Exempts unions from duty to represent public employees who choose not to join union or pay union dues. Makes conforming changes.
Rationale: SB846 would put the prohibition on fair share fees into Oregon law. While it’s unlikely that the Janus decision will be reversed at the federal level anytime soon, there’s no need to codify its impact in Oregon law. SB846 would also remove the duty of fair representation, which could have the impact of eroding the fundamental solidarity that unerlies the labor movement and threatening the integrity of bargaining units.
Relating to reporting requirements for labor organizations.
Requires labor organization that is exclusive representative of public employees to prepare annual financial disclosure report describing labor organization’s expenditures of moneys collected by and paid to labor organization. Requires labor organization to submit copy of report to Employment Relations Board each year. Requires board to make report available to public employees within bargaining unit and make report accessible to public on Internet. Allows board to impose civil penalties against labor organization that fails to comply with reporting requirements.
Rationale: SB847 seeks to require cumbersome financial reporting from unions, with the obvious intent of weaponizing that information.
Relating to employees at public institutions of higher education.
Provides that part-time faculty member at public institution of higher education who qualifies for health care benefits will pay 10 percent of insurance premiums, with remaining 90 percent paid by state.
Rationale: SB852 is our priority bill and would expand access to affordable health care to part time faculty who, pooling their FTE across community colleges and public universities, work more than half-time. The bill would provide for 90% premium contribution by the state.
Relating to scope of tuition equity at public universities; declaring an emergency.
Exempts graduate students at public universities who qualify for tuition equity from having to pay nonresident tuition. Declares emergency, effective on passage.
Rationale: SB859 expands tuition equity for undocumented students to apply also to graduate tuition. This is both an important piece of our larger support of tuition equity and specifically affects our GEU colleagues who may between appointments need access to resident tuition.
Relating to caps on payment of employees interacting with state government.
Caps salary of state employees hired on or after July 1, 2021, at amount of compensation of similarly situated federal employee. Prohibits state agencies from contracting with person to provide services to state if individual providing services is paid more than amount of compensation of similarly situated federal employee.
Rationale: SB882 is an aritifical constraint on the salary of state public employees, undermining their ability to advocate for appropriate wages. It’s an attack on worker rights.
Relating to health insurance coverage.
Requires insurer, Public Employees’ Benefit Board and Oregon Educators Benefit Board to cover specified health services without prior authorization in health benefit plans and benefit plans offered by insurer or board. Prescribes minimum number of visits that must be covered. Prohibits health insurer from requesting refund of payment made on claim if treatment was approved by health insurer, and health insurer confirmed coverage of service with health care provider in writing, online or by telephone.
Rationale: SB887 aims to expand health care coverage for public employees by removing some requirements for pre-authorization and protecting agains requests of refund.