How OSEA Advocacy Changes Lives

The 2023 Legislative Session concluded on June 25. Thanks to advocacy from hundreds of members, a record number of OSEA-backed bills passed. These new laws will improve working conditions and quality of life for education employees statewide.

The details of implementing these new laws will be finalized by agency rule-making groups in the coming months, but there is no doubt that their impacts will be seen and felt in Oregon schools and education programs. Join the Government Relations Update Group (GRUP!) to stay informed and get involved in supporting these and other wins.

"This was a record-breaking legislative session, when education workers won victories that seemed out of reach just a few years ago," said OSEA President Sarah Wofford. "Our wins are proof that OSEA members are powerful. When we are engaged and united, we are unstoppable!"

You can help keep our momentum going by supporting our life-changing advocacy on the education and labor issues that affect OSEA members. Invest in OSEA's Education and Labor Advocacy Fund (ELAF).

Contact your chapter president and OSEA field representative for information on how these laws will affect you and your colleagues.

How do OSEA's legislative wins help members?

PASSED: Record-Breaking School Funding

Advocacy from hundreds of OSEA members at the beginning of 2023 demonstrated why fully funding K-12 education is a priority for Oregon and its future. Lawmakers heard us and raised the state's budget for K-12 funding from $9.5 billion to a record-breaking $10.2 billion. This makes it much harder for school districts to claim budget shortfalls during future bargaining sessions. It is an investment in students and the staff who support them. (House Bill [HB] 5015)

PASSED: Unemployment Insurance for School Employees

Finally, K-12 classified staff will be able to access unemployment benefits under the same criteria as any other qualifying worker — and we will no longer be required to pass the "reasonable assurance" requirement to access this important financial safety net. This goes into effect Jan. 1, 2024. (Senate Bill [SB] 489)

PASSED: Better Job Quality for Classified Staff through Just Cause and More

An OSEA-backed "workforce omnibus package" covers many issues OSEA members have fought for years to win, including:

  • Just cause provisions to protect staff in K-12 school districts and education service districts (ESDs) from unfair discipline and termination
  • Minimum 5-hour workday for classified who work with special education students
  • $5 million for de-escalation and other training for classified staff
  • Ongoing work group to create statewide minimum wage scales

In addition to improving working conditions and quality of life for current school employees, these measures will make classified jobs more desirable to ease the workforce shortage. (SB 283)

PASSED: Classified Access to IEPs

Effective in September, classified employees assigned to work with a special education student will have access to relevant information from the student's individual education plan (IEP). They will be included on IEP teams, invited to IEP meetings and consulted on changes to their students' IEPs. Districts also must provide employer-paid training for all staff assigned to work with special education students.

This law will improve the quality of education provided to special education students by helping ensure every staff person they work with knows what they need and how best to support them. It also helps protect staff by providing training and information about working with a high needs student. (SB 756)

PASSED: Classified Representation on State Education Policy Boards

Classified staff have important insights into the needs of Oregon schools, students and educators. For the first time in state history, we will be represented on the five state education boards and commissions that shape our state's education policy. Email if you want to learn more about serving on a state policy board. (HB 3383)

PASSED: Early Literacy Curriculum and Staffing

The state will offer school districts grants for culturally appropriate literacy curriculum; grants may fund both curriculum and staffing. Not only did this bill pass, but advocacy from OSEA prevented grants from being funded with money from student investment accounts. (HB 3198)

PASSED: Classified School Employees Week

Classified school employees are the unsung heroes of our schools. The Legislature has named the first full week in March "Classified School Employees Week," raising awareness of classified staff and the important work we do for Oregon schools. (HB 2708)