How Homecare and Personal Support Workers in Oregon Can Opt Out of SEIU 503 Dues
For years, homecare and personal support workers were required to pay union dues to SEIU 503 as a condition of employment and the state automatically deducted union dues from workers' Medicaid reimbursement checks.
However, because of the U.S. Supreme Court's June 2014 decision in Harris v. Quinn, homecare and personal support workers can now demand that SEIU 503 cease withholding union dues/fees from their state paychecks.
The court referred to the requirement for partial-public employees like homecare and personal support workers to pay union dues as a money-making "scheme" for the union and ruled that the mandatory dues requirement violated workers' First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: SEIU 503 has arbitrarily decided to only allow homecare and personal support workers to opt out during a 15-day period each year. The 15-day window is different for each worker and is based on the date you first signed an SEIU 503 membership form. If the union receives your opt out form outside your window, it will ignore your request and continue deducting dues from your pay.
In order to make the process as easy as possible for workers who wish to opt out, we are asking workers to send their opt out forms to the Freedom Foundation instead of SEIU 503. We will submit your form and help you navigate the union’s 15-day window restriction.
The form is available here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I have to do in order to get the SEIU to stop deducting dues from my Medicaid checks?
Homecare and personal support workers who wish to opt out of paying dues to support SEIU 503 need to complete this letter and mail it to:
Brian Rudiger, Executive Director SEIU 503
C/O Freedom Foundation
P.O. Box 18146
Salem, OR 97305
How much are SEIU Local 503 dues?
According to federal filings, the union's dues in 2016 were 1.7 percent of your salary per month plus $2.75 per month. The average SEIU 503 member paid over $500 in dues last year.
Can I still work for state-paid clients and receive state Medicaid reimbursements if I opt out of paying dues to SEIU 503?
Yes. Under state law, the union contract for homecare and personal support workers is binding on all workers in the state, regardless of whether they want to be union represented and regardless of whether they choose to pay union dues. Opting out of paying dues will in no way affect your ability to serve state-paid clients or receive Medicaid reimbursements from the state.
If I stop paying dues to the union, will I still receive the same wages and benefits specified in SEIU 503's contract with the state?
Yes. SEIU 503 has arranged to be the "exclusive bargaining representative" for all homecare and personal support workers in the state, meaning that it is impossible for workers to get out of the terms of the contract, even if they cease paying dues. Your state reimbursement rates and benefits will be the same whether you are a member of the union or not.
If I resign from the union and stop paying dues, will I still be able to obtain health benefits through the Oregon Homecare Workers Supplemental & Benefits Trust?
Yes. All active homecare and personal support workers who are covered by a Trust-approved health plan are eligible to participate in the Oregon Homecare Workers Supplemental & Benefits Trust. More information about eligibility requirements can be found on the Trust’s website. The union does not provide your health insurance.
If I stop paying dues, will I still be able to attend the training provided by the Oregon Home Care Commission?
Yes. The training is paid for by the Home Care Commission and Department of Human Services. The Home Care Commission has confirmed that its classes "are available and free to anyone with an active state provider number" and that "union membership is not a factor in either attendance or payment of the stipend."
How will my relationship with the union change if I resign my membership in SEIU 503 and stop paying dues?
While the terms of SEIU 503's contract will still apply to you and your relationship with your client and the state will remain unchanged as a nonmember of SEIU 503, you will no longer be able to participate in internal union affairs, such as attending union meetings, participating in contract ratification votes or voting for union officers.
How does SEIU 503 spend my dues money?
SEIU 503 does not function like a traditional union. It cannot represent providers in workplace disputes or grievances, because homecare and personal support workers have an employer-employee relationship with their clients, not the state. The core of SEIU 503's activity involves negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the state once every few years. Despite its limited role, SEIU 503 had a paid staff of over 200 last year and, according to reports the union must file with the U.S. Department of Labor, collected over $28 million in dues and fees from its members in 2016.
- $6.7 million (over 23 percent) went to support the SEIU's headquarters in Washington, D.C., to support its massive political, economic and social agenda. The national SEIU regularly supports a host of controversial organizations like Planned Parenthood — the nation's largest abortion provider — which received $25,000 from SEIU last year alone.
- $2.7 million (over 9 percent) was spent on political candidates and causes in Oregon.
- $123 thousand was paid to private attorneys, some of which was used to fight efforts by the Freedom Foundation to help homecare and personal support workers exercise their constitutional right to opt out of union membership.
- $930 thousand was given to other unions and ideological nonprofit groups.
- Over $124 thousand was spent on hotels and travel.
- Over $98 thousand was spent on food and catering.
Examples of some interesting expenses include:
- $750,000 to "Yes on 97," the campaign for a 2016 ballot measure that 60 percent of Oregonians rejected.
- $720,221 to support Our Oregon, the left-wing group responsible for the failed ballot measure.
- $400,000 to professional political consulting firms.
17 SEIU 503 employees were paid six-figure salaries last year.
SEIU 503 executive director Brian Rudiger received a salary of $109,432 last year.
SEIU national president Mary Kay Henry received a salary of $282,281 last year.
- SEIU Local 503's 2016 LM-2 report is available here.
- SEIU Local 503's 2015 LM-2 report is available here.
- SEIU Local 503's 2014 LM-2 report is available here.
- SEIU Local 503's 2013 LM-2 report is available here.
- SEIU Local 503's 2012 LM-2 report is available here.
- SEIU Oregon Service Leadership Council's 2016 LM-2 report is available here.
- SEIU Oregon Service Leadership Council's 2015 LM-2 report is available here.
- SEIU Oregon Service Leadership Council's 2014 LM-2 report is available here.
- SEIU Oregon Service Leadership Council's 2013 LM-2 report is available here.
- SEIU Oregon Service Leadership Council's 2012 LM-2 report is available here.