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The e-lert is published periodically and sent directly only to those who request to receive it. A typical e-lert includes mostly legislative and political updates, with an occasional Council 75 or other labor-related anecdote. Click here if you would like to be added to the e-lert direct distribution list.


E-lert for April 20
Apr 21, 2015
An interesting bill took the attention of veteran Oregon AFSCME Political Coordinator Ralph Groener last week

Oregon AFSCME E-lert

 

April 20, 2015

 

Edited by Don Loving,

Council 75 Communications Director

 

Greetings! We're approaching a major deadline at the capitol ... The union works to make sure Oregon's pre-school expansion benefits and includes our child care providers ... There's actually some good news from Congress! ... and more. Welcome to this week's e-lert.

 

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DEADLINE APPROACHES — As we wade deeper into the 2015 legislative waters, we begin to come upon some mandatory deadlines. One of those occurs tomorrow, as April 21 is the deadline for any introduced measure to move out of its first committee. Otherwise, the bill dies.

 

Here are some AFSCME bills of interest — most of which have been covered in detail in previous editions of the e-lert — in danger of falling victim to the April 21 deadline:

 

  • HB 2804 — Pertains to overtime for nurses working in the Department of Corrections.

 

  • HB 2806 — Prohibits DPSST from revoking certification for a corrections officer if a CO voluntarily enters an EAP program. DOC maintains this does not happen anyway.

 

  • HB 2807 — Grants P&F PERS status to community college teachers working inside prisons.

 

  • HB 3321 & HB 3322 — The paired contracting transparency measures. Council 75 Political Director Joe Baessler says these measures should safely bump over to the House Rules Committee.

 

More on this topic next week.

 

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PRE-SCHOOL EXPANSION — Council 75 Political Coordinator Eva Rippeteau reports success in changing a nuance of HB 3380 to ensure the move to enhance and expand pre-schools in Oregon includes qualified Local 132 (Child Care Providers) members.

 

Four- or five-star rated care centers, including licensed in-home programs typical of Local 132, are in line for increased funding provided the provider has a bachelor's degree or is on the "path" to one.

 

"The question is what if you have a degree, but is; outside of early childhood development?" says Rippeteau. "We have Local 132 providers with degrees in history or communications or whatnot that ended up in child care and have been doing it for 20 years. Should your years doing child care 'count' under HB 3380 if your actual degree isn't in child care or development? That's the issue we need to resolve."

 

Rippeteau says House Education Committee Chair Rep. Margaret Doherty (D-Tigard), a former staff rep for the Oregon Education Association, made certain to ask for clarification on this issue from the state's Early Learning Division, with the intent of 'fixing' the issue in the rule-making process. We will update this issue as it develops.

 

*   *   *

 

PAID SICK DAYS CONUNDRUM — Baessler says a big potential monkey wrench has been thrown into the discussion about paid sick days. There's been a strong move all session to exempt small employers from mandatory paid sick time, and now that discussion is spilling over into possible conflicts with local measures already passed by the cities of Portland and Eugene.

 

"We support the concept without pre-exemptions for local employers in Portland and Eugene," says Baessler. "Having the state come down with a law that overrides the local measures is putting a bad idea within a good idea, and we're not interested in that. Our own Council 75 attorney Jennifer Chapman says the massive preemptions some are calling for would cause a myriad of legal problems. We do not want to go there."

 

Baessler says the union will continue to support the paid sick days concept that leaves the Portland and Eugene local laws untouched.

 

*   *   *

 

QUICK HITS — The AFSCME-sponsored bill allowing Corrections employees to be compared with Oregon's five largest counties rather than neighboring states in bargaining is still alive, but in trouble. Mary Botkin, contracting with the union to do Corrections and PERS issues following her December retirement, says cost is the sticking point. "The Department of Administrative Services placed a huge fiscal impact statement on the bill, a number that essentially says we would win 100 percent of the time, which everyone understands doesn't happen in bargaining," she said. "But it's very difficult to get a 'bad fiscal' off of a bill. We're still trying." ...

 

Political Coordinator Ralph Groener has spent the bulk of his recent time going door-to-door visiting with legislators regarding three issues: the Stabilization and Crisis Unit (SACU) budget, HB 2618 (the SACU P&F PERS bill) and wage increases for IDD group home workers. On the budget (HB 5026), there's growing consensus to use money spent on overtime on the Local 1246-represented group homes to hire more permanent staff, including regional crisis teams. HB 2618 remains a work in progress, but is still in the mix. Groener's goal on the wage increase for IDD group home workers — AFSCME represents several hundred in private non-profits around the state — is to make sure any increases from the state aimed at the homes is targeted as a specific budget line item. Some private providers took money intended for wages from the '13 Legislature and used it for other purposes. The '13 money was only tagged in a budget note, which does not have full force of law; making it a line item would mean workers got the money. ...

 

Rippeteau urges members of Local 132 to call their legislators and ask for support of HB 2015, the expansion of Employment-Related Day Care (ERDC). "This bill is the vehicle to increase child care subsidy rates, which impacts many of our AFSCME-represented providers," said Rippeteau. The measure is currently in the Ways and Means Committee awaiting further action. Click here if you need help identifying your state representative and/or senator.

 

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YOU'RE INVITED — This upcoming weekend (April 24-26) is the biennial Oregon AFSCME Convention, to be staged this year in the downtown Salem Convention Center. While you must be an elected delegate or alternate from your local to officially participate, there is a general seating area and any member is welcome to attend the proceedings.

 

In addition, you are specifically invited to a Friday afternoon legislative luncheon that begins at 1 p.m. All Oregon lawmakers have been invited to attend. We can't tell here exactly who is coming and who isn't, but this will be an informal, meet-and-greet setting that offers an excellent opportunity to discuss issues of concern directly with legislators. It too will be held at the Salem Convention Center; contact Oregon AFSCME Political Organizer John McGovern if you need more information.

 

*   *   *

 

Finally, this from Washington, D.C. ...

 

TIMBER PAYMENTS GET TWO-YEAR EXTENSION — There is some good news for beleaguered Oregon timber counties: legislation to revive at least partial federal payments to timber-dependent counties in Oregon and elsewhere across the nation has received final congressional approval.

 

The latest two-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools Act, as it's known, means about $185 million for Oregon counties both this year and next. There are some large, rural Oregon counties that include over 50 percent federal forestland within their boundaries. Many of those counties — Josephine and Coos, just to name two — are primarily represented by AFSCME. The union has been a major player, both in Oregon and in Washington, D.C. over the years, in fighting for SRS extensions.

 

For the past several years, SRS has seen 11th hour, one-year extensions tucked into a wide variety of legislation, one time even a funding bill for the Middle East. This latest two-year extension was attached to a bill passed by the Senate related to Medicare payments to physicians. It passed the Senate 92-8, has already passed the House, and President Obama is expected to sign it.

 

More from the Oregonian.

 

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Page Last Updated: Apr 21, 2015 (14:48:22)


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