Dear OSEA Family,
As a chapter leader for over seven years before I became OSEA president, I really do get how unpleasant political campaigns can be. But we can’t fight for better wages, benefits and quality of life for our members at the bargaining table alone. I have learned from our members that we can either be at the table or the main course. We each have to use our votes at the bargaining table, in our CBA ballots and in our election ballots to support each other as a union which will lift up pro-worker, pro-education candidates and policies that help our members and their families. I am sending this information to you to be transparent about OSEA’s endorsement in this year’s governor’s race. We followed the same process and principles in considering the three candidates:
- Christine Drazan, Republican of Canby, who declined to participate in OSEA’s interview process. Candidates who choose not to talk to our members can’t be endorsed, especially when they need to explain consistently voting against unemployment insurance (UI) access.
- Betsy Johnson, nonaffiliated candidate of Scappoose, who is ineligible for OSEA support in this election cycle because of her vote for Senate Bill (SB) 1049 (2019), which cut retirement benefits for thousands of OSEA members. Johnson also voted against our bill in 2021 that would have lessened the impact of SB 1049.
- Tina Kotek, Democrat of Portland, who participated in OSEA’s interview process and has an overall good track record of supporting OSEA’s priorities. Kotek was a chief architect of the Student Success Act’s investments in early learning and K-12. She listened to our needs and perspectives on expanding access to school meals and supporting students’ mental and behavioral health needs. She was ineligible for OSEA support due to SB 1049 when she ran in 2020, but she has supported every one of our UI access bills, our bill to fix SB 1049, and a bill to get our members equal access to unemployment benefits during the pandemic that, sadly, Johnson blocked.
Given these facts, supporting Tina Kotek for governor this year is a straightforward choice to protect workers like us and our other members in the 2023 Legislative Session and beyond.
OSEA will always respect you and your individual choices as a voter. I hope you all will join me in filling out and returning your ballot as soon as you can. And please, as you’re considering what vote to cast in the governor’s race, look at who has shown themselves to be pro-worker.
Quick Guide to OSEA’s Candidate Endorsement Process:
- OSEA invites members to participate in local interview teams.
- Next, member interview team asks candidates hard questions and listen carefully to responses. Then, they discuss and recommend whether to endorse candidates to the Government Relations Committee (GRC).
- The GRC looks at the team recommendations, candidates’ positions and voting records on education and labor issues. These are issues which directly affect members like you and the jobs we do — the same topics we ask chapters to use when endorsing local school board candidates. This committee makes recommendations to the Board of Directors.
- The OSEA Board considers the committee’s recommendations, discusses and votes.
- OSEA announces endorsements.