Dear Leaders and Staff:
I hope that this email finds you well. As we all continue to navigate the closure of Oregon’s K-12 schools, and work to mitigate the impact that the coronavirus pandemic will have on students and educators, I wanted to share some resources that you might find useful.
Upcoming Economic Forecast
The governor’s office recently convened a conference call with OEA and other Oregon education stakeholders, including: the Oregon Department of Education, the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators, the Oregon School Boards Association, the Oregon School Employees Association. During that call, the governor’s office laid out an honest and sobering assessment of Oregon’s budget outlook.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic more than 243,000 Oregonians have filed for unemployment benefits. Given Oregon’s dependence on income tax for state revenue, this staggering rise in the unemployment rate is sure to have an enormous impact on how much funding the state will have to provide services. To prepare for the anticipated decline in state revenue, Governor Brown will be asking state agencies to determine what a 10% budget reduction would look like for their programming. While this does not mean that a 10% budget cut is imminent, it is indicative of the harsh economic forecast the governor’s office is anticipating.
The state economist will release a revised economic forecast on May 20th, and at that time we expect the legislature will be called into special session in order to address those reported budget shortfalls. The OEA will continue to fight for the ending fund balance, the Rainy-Day Fund, and the School Stability Fund to be accessed before any deep cuts are made in school budgets. We will also continue to work in concert with other education partners, including NEA, to seek federal budgetary relief.
We will continue to update you with additional information as we receive it, and with new advocacy opportunities as they arise.
Bargaining During the COVID Crisis
As locals across the state continue with bargaining, many leaders have asked for simple guidance on how they should their bargains in the wake of the COVID crisis. To that end, OEA’s Bargaining Coordinator has put together a quick list of “Do’s and Don’ts” to help guide you in your bargaining:
- Do base your financial bargaining on actual evidence, rather than speculation
- Do focus on member protections and work-life improvements
- Do work with you UniServ consultant on bargaining during the crisis
- Don’t agree to freeze step advancement or cost of living adjustments
- Don’t participate in panic bargaining
- Don’t concede anything that has a long-term effect
Federal and State Employee Leave Guidance
The most common questions we have received from members during the COVID pandemic are focused on federal and state employee leave laws, and what types of leave benefits employees are entitled to use under those laws. OEA’s General Counsel has written a memo focused on the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to help you and your members answer those questions. That memo is attached in this email.
Thank you again for all you do – for your members, your students, and your communities.
Memo Attachment: PDF FFCRA and OFLA