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.