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No apologies from this union for defending members' PERS rights
Updated On: Jan 14, 2013
Ken Allen

Council 75 Director Ken Allen tells the Oregonian that PERS COLA caps are likely unconstitutional

Oregon AFSCME is at the forefront of the fight to protect your retirement benefits, no matter what the state's largest newspape

Oregon AFSCME is at the forefront of the fight to protect your retirement benefits, no matter what the state's largest newspaper thinks.


Indeed, Council 75 Executive Director Ken Allen and Communications Director Don Loving recently met with editorial board staff from the state's "Big Three" newspapers: the Oregonian, the Salem Statesman Journal and the Eugene Register-Guard. While a number of issues were discussed at each paper — state bargaining, AFSCME's push for a local government insurance pool, how the Oregon Health Exchange will help small business, how OHSU is a major economic driver for the Portland area and beyond — the Oregonian, in particular, really wanted to focus on PERS.


And, as you may have seen on Jan. 14, the Oregonian ran an editorial titled "AFSCME to governor: Hands off PERS."


Actually, what Allen told the papers was that legal experts believe Gov. Kitzhaber's call to limit PERS retirees' COLAs will be found unconstitutional. The Oregonian's editorial says "taxpayers will be no worse off than they are now" if the Oregon Supreme Court rules the change unconstitutional, ignoring the millions in legal fees the state will incur defending the action should it pass the 2013 Legislature.


"There are other viable options for PERS, which overall is a stable public pension fund and not in the severe crisis the Oregonian and others make it out to be," said Allen. "PERS is still recovering from the 2008 stock market crash, and we support extending the amortization of those historic, one-time losses over 30 years rather than the normal 20-year period, for example. That action alone by the PERS Board would significantly lessen the current pressure on employer rates.


"But we will not back down from defending our members' and our retirees' contractual rights, whether proposed by the governor or anyone else."


PERS will be a hot topic once the 2013 Oregon Legislature begins full action on Feb. 4. Oregon AFSCME publishes a weekly electronic legislative update, the E-lert, throughout the session. Click here to sign up for the E-lert if you're not already on the list and would like to be. Note: please sign up using your home e-mail address, not your work address.

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