Oregon Legislature Affirms UI Equity for School Employees

On Thursday, May 13, the Oregon House of Representatives confirmed that more school employees deserve equal access to unemployment insurance (UI) benefits by passing SB 496. This bill removes the unfair “reasonable assurance” restriction on UI eligibility for food service, prekindergarten and early intervention education workers during school recess periods like summer break.

“This is great news for school employees, and I am excited to see the Oregon Legislature do the right thing,” said President Lisa Gourley. “SB 496 will give thousands of OSEA members access to their rightful benefits, and it is also a huge step forward in our fight for UI equity for all school staff.”

Once it is signed by Gov. Kate Brown, SB 496 will go into effect on Sept. 1, 2021, making thousands of school employees, including many OSEA members, eligible to receive UI benefits just like other workers. The bill passed with broad bipartisan support, boosting OSEA’s momentum in our ongoing fight for equal access to UI for all school employees.

“Today’s broad, bipartisan support for school employees’ access to UI benefits is a big victory in this fight that has gone on too long,” said OSEA Government Relations Specialist Bob Estabrook. “We’re not done until every school employee in Oregon has equal access to UI benefits, but today’s huge margin of victory confirms that we’ve got momentum.”

This victory comes after months of advocacy by OSEA members, who shared their stories with lawmakers and testified in support of this bill.