Under the headline Historic Tentative Agreement Reached for Care Providers, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 503 has described the negotiated agreement for Personal Support Workers who are employed by customers of brokerages.
Although the actual Collective Bargaining Agreement has not been published yet, some of the thirteen points made by SEIU in its document will need to be closely monitored to ensure the philosophy and practices that Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families fought so hard for in the Staley Agreement are maintained with the highest integrity. Most notably, the disability community must be vigilant in its advocacy for people with disabilities to continue to design and direct their own supports.
As brokerages have proven for the past eleven years, our customer and family advocacy efforts will continue and we hope to have as much success in the future as we have demonstrated in the past. Despite multiple budget cuts and constant expansion of administrative requirements, our services have remained strong and intact and Oregon’s person-centered model is known nationwide.
Please continue reading for a point-by-point response to the document’s points.
- SEIU: Clear, consistent standards: (The Agreement) requires brokerages to clearly communicate all policies and procedures on items like payable services and creates a committee to give Personal Support workers a voice in the creation of a centralized payroll system to ensure timely payments.
- OSSA: We agree that clear, consistent standards (especially in the ever-changing face of our service delivery systems) are helpful and necessary practices. Our hope is that this will occur within a context of local control of customer services.
- SEIU: Issues Committee: (The Agreement) provides us with an ongoing forum to meet with the State to problem solve program inconsistencies, consider initiatives to improve our work lives, and discuss problems that may impact sizeable groups of workers.
- OSSA: An “Issues Committee” for problem solving and consideration of initiatives can be an effective forum as it has been for other efforts within the Oregon Home Care Commission. Support services brokerages will continue to advocate for self-advocates to be at the center of any and all discussions that might affect the quality, cost, or duration of their supports.
- SEIU: Person-Centered Planning: (The Agreement) recognizes that our service plans should reflect person-centered planning
- OSSA: Person-Centered Planning does recognize that the brokerage customer’s plan is person-centered and indeed, Oregon has long been recognized as a leader in efforts to ensure that people with disabilities direct their own supports.
- SEIU: Training: (The Agreement) provides strong worker representation on a committee to develop relevant training classes and identify professional development opportunities.
- OSSA: Since inclusion in the Home Care Commission, training has been a welcome addition to opportunities for the employees of support services customers. Brokerages have done considerable outreach to share information regarding HCC trainings and will continue to do so.
- SEIU: Improved Communication: (The Agreement) guarantees we get a job duty description before beginning work. If state funding for hours and/or services changes, our union will be notified within 7 days after consumers are informed.
- OSSA: Strong and effective communication is essential to ensure people are getting the supports they need to achieve their goals. CMS’ requirement that all services be authorized by service recipients prior to service delivery provides a strong incentive for customers and their employees to communicate openly and regularly.
- SEIU: Wage Increase: (The Agreement allows) increases in wages of 1.25% for workers outside of the Independent Choices and the PC-20 Programs effective 4/1/12. Workers in the PC-20 Program will be increased to $10.20/hour effective the first full month after ratification. Wage increases should not impact a consumer’s ability to purchase services.
- OSSA: Support service brokerages support the payment of living wages to all workers in development disability services and we agree that wage increases should not impact a customer’s ability to purchase services. How wage increases will happen without impacting customers’ ability to purchases services has not been defined nor addressed yet by ODDS or by SEIU.
- SEIU: Grievance Procedure: (The Agreement) creates a binding process to resolve contract violations.
- OSSA: Support services brokerages believe that a formal grievance procedure is an appropriate method of resolving contract violations.
- SEIU: Union Rights: (The Agreement) ensures that the state will provide us with the information we need to stay organized and in contact with each other as providers, dues and fair share payroll deductions and easier access to important information from our union at free trainings. Our union can share information about our rights and how to protect services for our consumers before and after Oregon Home Care Commission trainings. If orientations are scheduled, then we can also have twenty minutes of guaranteed time to learn more about our contract and our union rights.
- OSSA: Union rights require the state to provide information from all of the entities affected by House Bill 3618 and there has been significant effort to problem solve the complexities of information sharing from the local level.
- SEIU: No Discrimination: (The Agreement) protects us against discrimination based race, sex, sexual orientation, and other protected statuses.
- OSSA: Support services brokerages support and have always supported including anti-discrimination policies. They are a hallmark of our rights as citizens.
- SEIU: Worker’s Compensation: (The Agreement) protects us if we are injured on the job.
- OSSA: Worker’s compensation has been a concern for support services brokerages for more than 10 years and it was a welcome result of the inclusion of support services providers in the Home Care Commission after the passage of House Bill 3618.
- SEIU: Registry & Referral System: (The Agreement) gives us a voice in creating a referral system so we can find work and respite caregivers easier.
- OSSA: We believe a registry and referral system has the potential to add enormous value to the many customers and families who are challenged to find appropriate providers to meet support needs.
- SEIU: Mileage Reimbursement: (The Agreement) protects and improves our access to mileage reimbursement. Consumers may authorize medical mileage to be paid directly to personal support workers and authorized mileage will be reimbursed even if our consumer is no longer eligible for services.
- OSSA: Mileage reimbursement is commonplace in support services and has been since the inception of brokerages. However, current support services Oregon Administrative Rules prohibit reimbursement for medical mileage. Brokerages will look to ODDS to resolve this and any other conflicts that might arise between the collective bargaining agreement and current OARs.
- SEIU: Wage Overpayments: (The Agreement) creates first-time overpayment rights. If paid by a voucher, workers can repay an overpayment in 5% intervals. If paid by an invoice system and an overpayment is discovered after 10 days, personal support workers have a voice in deciding a reasonable overpayment system.
- OSSA: Support service brokerages take their responsibility as custodians of public funds very seriously. In the rare circumstance that a wage overpayment occurs we make every effort to address the overpayment quickly and fairly. Naturally, we must ensure that the number one priority is continued availability of funds so that no lapse in essential customer supports occurs.
We look forward to the continued success of self-directed supports with each new change and will continue to advocate for adults with developmental disabilities in our services.
Margaret Theisen (Full Access) – OSSA President
Dan Peccia (Self Determination Resources Inc.) – OSSA Vice President
Bill Uhlman (Eastern Oregon Support Services Brokerage) – OSSA Secretary/ Treasurer
Barbara Hedrick (Creative Supports Inc.)
Ed Little, Jr. (Mentor Oregon Brokerage – South)
Barbara Charette (Southern Oregon Regional Brokerage)
Bev Herrin (Resource Connections of Oregon)
Jill Ferns (Integrated Services Network)
Howard Miller (Inclusion Inc.)
Larry Deal (Independence Northwest)
Katie Rose (Mentor Oregon Brokerage – Metro)
Jennifer Bickett (Community Pathways Inc.)
Sarah Knight (UCP Connections)