How Adult Foster Care Home Providers in Oregon Can Opt Out of SEIU 503 Dues
In 2013, SEIU 503 and the state agreed to seek approval from the federal Center on Medicare and Medicaid Services to start forcing providers to pay union dues. Under the agreement, the state would automatically withhold union dues from providers' state payments.
Before the scheme could be implemented, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the June 2014 case Harris v. Quinn that it was unconstitutional to require "partial-public employees" like state-paid adult foster care home providers to pay union dues against their will.
The court referred to the requirement for partial-public employees like adult foster care home providers to pay union dues as a money-making "scheme" for the union and ruled that mandatory dues requirements violated providers' First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association.
While SEIU 503 can no longer technically force providers to pay dues, that hasn't stopped it from trying. The union has continued its push to get the state to deduct dues directly from providers' pay, instead of having to seek payment from providers themselves. SEIU 503 and the state of Oregon recently argued before the Employment Relations Board over who should pay for the cost of implementing the system to withhold union dues from providers' reimbursements.
But the union can only take your money if you authorize it. Carefully examine anything SEIU 503 asks you to sign.
State-paid home care and personal support workers are also represented by SEIU 503 and covered by the Harris decision. Hundreds of these caregivers have sought to exercise their First Amendment right to opt out of union membership and cease paying any dues or fees, only to get caught up in SEIU 503's scheme of automatic, "forced" payments. Here's how it works:
- The state, on behalf of the union, automatically withholds money straight from providers' paychecks, as though it was collecting taxes.
- The union then sets an arbitrary 15-day window (in the fine print of the union membership card) as the only time during which it will process opt-out requests. This is different for each worker and is meant to be overlooked. If the union receives an opt-out form outside this window, it denies the request and continues charging fees.
- Although the fees are technically optional, the effect of this scheme is to drastically limit the chance to opt out and force as many workers as possible to continue paying against their will.
Unfortunately, the union's recent complaint shows that it wants to apply this scheme to adult foster care home providers, as well. So far, you have the ability to freely choose whether to pay union dues or not. To be sure you don't get stuck in the 15-day window and forced-payment scheme, complete this form and mail it to SEIU 503 via certified mail.
Remember, signing up for or renewing membership in SEIU 503 will make it very difficult to exercise your right to opt out in the future. If the union asks you to sign anything, know your rights and read carefully.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I have to do in order to get the SEIU to stop deducting dues from my Medicaid checks?
Adult foster care home providers who wish to opt out of paying dues to support SEIU 503 need to complete this letter and mail it to:
Heather Conroy, Executive Director SEIU 503
C/O Freedom Foundation
P.O. Box 552
Olympia, WA 98507
How much are SEIU Local 503 dues?
According to federal filings, the union's dues in 2014 were 1.7 percent of salary per month plus $2.75. The average SEIU 503 member paid about $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 adult foster home care providers is binding on all providers 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 Local 503 has arranged to be the "exclusive bargaining representative" for all adult foster care home providers in the state, meaning that it is impossible for providers 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.
Article 13 of the collective bargaining agreement even provides that, “no Provider, on account of membership or non-membership, shall be retaliated against, intimidated, restrained or coerced in or on account of the exercise of rights granted by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
How will my relationship with the union change if I resign my membership in SEIU Local 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.
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 attendance.
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 adult foster care home providers 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 two 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, SEIU Local 503 collected $27 million in dues and fees from its members in 2015.
- $6.5 million (nearly 25 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 $20,000 from SEIU last year alone.
- $1.7 million (about 6.5 percent) was spent on divisive political candidates and causes in Oregon.
- Over $2 million was given to other unions and ideological nonprofit groups.
- Over $150 thousand was spent on hotels.
- Over $90 thousand was spent on food and catering.
- Over $33 thousand was paid to ideological, union-affiliated non-profits in Oregon.
SEIU Local 503 executive director Heather Conroy received a salary of $110,841 last year.
SEIU national president Mary Kay Henry received a salary of $296,549 last year.
- 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 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.