Oregon PCAs Could Earn $15/Hour by 2017
Oregon personal care attendants (PCAs) on August 27 tentatively agreed to a contract with the state that would make them eligible for a $15/hour wage by 2017.
Service Employees International Union Local 503, which represents more than 20,000 Oregon PCAs, agreed to the contract after weeks of negotiations with officials representing the state. The PCAs now must vote to ratify the contract before it takes effect.
The contract calls for a wage increase to $14/hour by January 2016, and then to $14.50/hour by February 2017. PCAs who complete a special training session on first aid and CPR would be entitled to a raise of 50 cents an hour, potentially boosting their hourly wages to $15 by February 2017.
Oregon PCAs earn $13.75 an hour under their current contract.
A “Historic Victory”
In an August 27 press release, SEIU describes the contract as a “historic victory [which] belongs to all of us.”
“In 1999, Oregon Homecare workers had no union, no voice on the job, and no ability to make a living. Many of us earned less than minimum wage,” the press release says.
“Sixteen short years and lots of collective action later, our work is coming out of the shadows,” it continues. “Our consumers have increased support to live their lives with dignity and autonomy, and we workers can survive and provide for our families.”
The contract also guarantees five days of paid time off per year for PCAs, as well as a way to save for retirement.
“This is history for us,” Alice Redding, a PCA and member of the SEIU bargaining team, told the Salem Statesman Journal on August 27. “We’ve never had retirement security,” said Redding, who added that she “was in tears” when the contract was finally agreed upon.
In August, an anti-union organization based in Washington State filed a lawsuit against SEIU Local 503 over alleged First Amendment violations.
— by Matthew Ozga