OSEA’s UI bill passes House on bipartisan vote

House Bill (HB) 2660 passed on a bipartisan 43-17 vote on March 13, marking an important milestone toward gaining unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for some of OSEA members.

Five Republicans — Reps. Mike McLane, Sherrie Sprenger, Greg Smith, Cheri Helt and Lynn Findley — joined all House Democrats in supporting the bill, which now moves to the Senate for consideration.

State law currently restricts UI benefits for all school employees by a determination of “reasonable assurance” of a return to work after breaks or summer vacation. While OSEA ultimately wants to lift this unfair restriction for all classified employees, HB 2660 only affects custodial and maintenance workers — 93 percent can reasonably expect year-round work.

“It’s long past time for Oregon to act on this issue,” said Ed Edwards, OSEA’s director of government relations. “We appreciate the legislators who understand the importance of classified employees and are in this fight with us.”

The bill’s chief sponsor in the House, Rep. Sheri Schouten, D-Beaverton, indicated that HB 2660 is only the beginning.

“I’m proud to stand with OSEA,” Schouten said. “I know that fairness has been too long in coming already, but I am committed to extending access to unemployment benefits for all classified school employees in Oregon.”

OSEA must now turn its focus to passing this bill in the Senate.

“I encourage members to contact their state Senator and urge them to support this bill,” Edwards said.

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