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Oregon Home Care Workers Secure $15 Hourly Wage

An SEIU Local 503 bargaining team has negotiated a pay raise with the state for home-care workers, who will earn up to $15 an hour by 2017. Credit: SEIU Local 503.
An SEIU Local 503 bargaining team has negotiated a pay raise with the state for home-care workers, who will earn up to $15 an hour by 2017. Credit: SEIU Local 503.
August 28, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. - A pay raise is on the way for more than 20,000 home-care workers in Oregon.

A new contract has been settled with the state by SEIU Local 503 that outlines a pathway of up to $15 an hour by 2017. Home-care workers currently have a base wage of $13.75 an hour.

"Some people say, oh, $15 an hour isn't anything, but $15 an hour to us is a lot," said home-care worker Phyllis Wills, who was on the bargaining team. "They don't know what $15 an hour means to us - and it means freedom."

The contract will be up for a vote for all union members soon.

Eileen Ordway, a long-time home-care worker who also was on the bargaining team, said this new wage plan rewards workers who go the extra mile to improve their expertise and performance in order to support people so they can stay in their homes.

"It's exciting to have an awareness of how vital training, education and refinement of skills is to our work," she said.

Home-care worker Alice Redding, who also helped make the contract happen, said that in 1999, before home-care workers unionized, the base pay was less than $5 an hour for most workers - and many depended on food stamps and other programs.

"Earning a living wage is so important," she said. "It means a difference of surviving or living in poverty. Now, we'll be making a decent wage and we'll be able to have a little less struggle."

The contract would be reopened in 2017 to review future wage increases.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - OR