PERS Retirement Promise Matters to Union Members

We are the public employees of Oregon. We are people who work with the universities to train the future leaders of our world. We are teachers who pay out of pocket for school supplies when budgets are tight. We are firefighters who put ourselves at risk every day. We are police officers protecting the community and nurses keeping people healthy. We are cafeteria workers, child welfare specialists, park maintenance staff and the many other jobs it takes to keep the state running and care for those that no one else will care for.

Many of us are working for less than we would in the private sector. We agreed to that understanding we would have secure retirement. Now we face more cuts to our secure future. That breaks the promise made to us.

What We Earn
  • ‌Oregon’s total compensation—salary and benefits—for state employees is in line with compensation for comparable employees in the Northwest private sector.
  • ‌Oregon teachers earn about 20 percent less than professionals with similar educations.
  • ‌More than 21 percent of classified workers at public universities earn less than $15 per hour.
What Retirees Receive Today
  • ‌$27,922—average annual pension benefit
  • ‌44% of final salary

‌Two-thirds of us receive less than $3,000 per month. Future retirees will receive less due to legislative changes already made: 53% of public employees are in the reduced OPSRP pension with a supplemental 401K-type account that was created in 2003. As a result of legislative changes in 2003 and 2013, public employees’ retirement benefits are lower.

PERS Liability
  • ‌70%—retirees and inactive members
  • ‌16%—Tier One members still working
  • ‌9%—Tier Two members still working
  • ‌5%—OPSRP members still working

T‌he Oregon Supreme Court ruled lawmakers cannot take away benefits people earned.

Breaking a Promise and Passing the Buck

‌Lawmakers proposed to use 6% of our salary to pay benefits to people already retired. The money should go into 401K-type accounts for people hired after 2003.

And it Gets Worse

‌If lawmakers approve the plan, new teachers, firefighters and other public workers get 31% less retirement benefits, making it harder to hire and retain qualified people.

  • ‌Oregon’s corporate tax rate is the lowest in the country and prescription drug companies make big profits.
  • ‌Oregon: 5.98% of pre-tax profits
  • ‌National Average: 9.16% of pre-tax profits
  • ‌Compared to U.S. average, we collect 35%, or $7 billion less every two years.
  • ‌Comcast’s unpaid tax bill: $170 million
  • ‌“Non-profit” hospitals 2015 profits: $1 billion

Instead of passing the buck, keep Oregon’s promise.

‌Sources—Department of Administrative Services, U.S. Census, Oregon Department of Revenue, PERS by the Numbers, Citizens for Tax Justice, Act Now for a Healthy Oregon, Anderson Economic Group, Oregon Health Authority.

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SEIU Local 085