The Oregon Legislature just completed its 2022 short session by passing outstanding new bills to help AFT-Oregon’s members. Below are summaries of some of the most important legislation. For more details, please read AFT-OR’s Legislative Summary prepared by our lobbying partner, Mahonia Public Affairs.
Public Student Loan Forgiveness Fixes and Expansion
AFT-Oregon members worked hard on Lobby Day and submitted powerful testimonies to the legislature in the 2022 session on the importance of clarifying and expanding Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) through the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 1572B.
As a follow up to implementation challenges from 2021’s House Bill (HB) 3255, SB 1572B provides statutory clarity that community colleges and universities are required to comply with PSLF notification requirements and the application of a weekly hour multiplier for faculty. SB 1572B clarified that for every one hour of assigned lecture time an educator works, they should be credited for an additional 4.35 hours for the purposes of certifying eligibility for the Federal PSLF Program.
Further, SB 1572B provides a directive for universities and colleges to apply the 4.35 hour multiplier for eligible hours retroactively. This legislation also expressly provides that a higher multiplier can be bargained locally and also requires an education employer to use a 30 hour threshold in defining full time for the purposes of PSLF.
Part-Time Faculty Health Care Technical Fixes
SB 1522 (Section 30) makes full-time equivalency eligibility determined on an average rather than meeting FTE threshold for each academic term. Additionally, SB 1522 changes the schedule for determining eligibility to an annual determination rather than a semi-annual determination. These provisions apply to the 2022 open enrollment period. We now expect that many more part-time faculty members will be able to qualify for health care this year.
Retention Pay and Support for Classified K-12 Staff
House Bill 4030 passed this year, and has many provisions to help address the need to recruit, retain, and value K-12 educators and education workers. This bill appropriated roughly $80 million for recruitment and retention grants to go towards personnel across the state, and $20 million for required training reimbursements for substitute teachers and teaching assistants. The State Board of Education will be tasked with overseeing the distribution of these funds - stay tuned for updates.
Graduate Employee Contact Information Sharing
SB 1522 (Section 4) requires a public university to create a waiver form for graduate student employees to waive privacy rights to personal/work contact information. These provisions also require that the form be signed as a condition of employment for any graduate student who wishes to be employed by the public university. SB 1522 will ensure that graduate student employee unions obtain all contact information that is required in HB 2016, which passed during the 2019 session.
This is a huge victory for the Graduate Employees Union (GEU) of Portland State University. PSU had refused to provide essential bargaining unit contact information to GEU, deliberately impeding GEU’s ability to organize. The bill also removes any uncertainty or the need to bargain over this core union right for the Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE) at Oregon State and the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) at Oregon.
As a coalition partner, AFT actively supported HB 4002 which ensures overtime compensation is expanded to Oregon’s agricultural sector workers. The bill, as passed, sets maximum allowable hours an agricultural worker may work before overtime compensation is required. The maximum starts at 55 hours/week for 2023 and 2024, 48 hours/week for 2025 and 2026, and ultimately phases into a 40 hour/week overtime requirement effective in 2027. HB 4002 also created a refundable tax credit for employers to offset cost increases — notably, the refundable tax credit is more generous for smaller employers, particularly dairies with fewer than 25 employees.
Coming Soon: Joint Taskforce on Student Success for Underrepresented Students in Higher Education (JTUSHE)
Starting in late March and going through the summer, the Legislature’s JTUSHE will be gearing up with several campus/site visits at community colleges and universities to hear feedback from education stakeholders about policy changes and investments to increase higher education outcomes for traditionally underrepresented students. This is a vital opportunity for AFT-Oregon members to proactively engage through campus visits and task force meetings. Similar to the Joint Committee on Student Success in 2019, this task force will likely generate proposed education legislative proposals for the 2023 Legislative Session.