AFT-Oregon will continue fight to protect members' retirement security

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Dear Members,

After slashing PERS benefits by $800-million last spring, Oregon’s legislature has added insult to injury this week by making additional cuts to cost-of-living (COLA) adjustments for PERS retirees in a special session called by Governor Kitzhaber. Overtime, these laws will raid PERS pensions of $4.6 billion in benefits and create a future of uncertainty for seniors who held up their end of the bargain by working hard to provide quality education and other vital public services for our communities.

We realize that our schools, colleges and universities are underfunded – class sizes are too big and the cost of higher education has skyrocketed. However, cutting the benefits of hard working Oregonians is not a longterm solution to Oregon's revenue issues. We support policies that treat all Oregonians equally and don’t punish those who have worked hard for their retirement.

SB 861 will reduce cost-of-living increases from two percent to 1.25 percent for those with annual benefits up to $60,000, and just .15 percent for those with annual benefits over $60,000. AFT-Oregon is disappointed that legislators, who previously said they would oppose any changes to PERS, did not keep their promise.

I would like to personally thank all members who sent a letter or called the Governor and legislators, or who shared personal stories of how these cuts will affect your lives during legislative committee meetings. Your actions did make a difference, as we were able to end the attack on “inactives.” Unfortunately, we were not able to fight back the cuts on COLA this time.

AFT-Oregon will continue to work hard to protect our members’ retirement security. AFT-Oregon is part of the PERS Coalition, which has already filed a challenge to the law passed last spring which also reduced COLA increases for PERS retiree benefits.

David Rives, AFT-Oregon President

How legislators voted on SB 861:

House vote:

Nays, 24--Bailey, Barker, Barnhart, Barton, Berger, Doherty, Fagan, Frederick, Freeman, Gallegos, Gelser, Gomberg, Gorsek, Greenlick, Hanna, Jenson, Krieger, Matthews, Nathanson, Smith, Thompson, Vega Pederson, Whisnant, Williamson; Excused, 5--Cameron, Clem, Holvey, Thatcher, Unger. 

Senate vote:

Passed.Ayes, 22; nays, 7--Beyer, Close, Dingfelder, Knopp, Kruse, Rosenbaum, Shields; excused, 1--Prozanski