How the PERS proposals will affect you

Tell your legislators to stop the unbalanced cuts to PERS

Some politicians and CEOs in Oregon want to balance the budget by cutting pay for public employees, instead of making corporations pay their fair share. This month, they are turning their attention to the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS), and they are ramping up their rhetoric.

Here are the most important proposals before the legislature today.

SB 559

Sponsors: Sen Knopp; Sen Kruse; Sen Baertschiger Jr; Sen Boquist; Sen Ferrioli; Sen Girod; Sen Hansell; Sen Olsen; Sen Thatcher; Sen Winters; Rep Nearman

Summary: This bill would lower your retirement payouts by changing the way your “final average salary” is calculated. It reduces payouts by calculating final average salary based on your 5 highest years, rather than the current practice of 3, and excludes vacation and sick leave payouts from the calculation. It is only for future years of service. It includes no new revenue.

SB 560

Sponsors: Sen Knopp; Sen Kruse; Sen Baertschiger Jr; Sen Boquist; Sen Ferrioli; Sen Hansell; Sen Olsen; Sen Thatcher; Sen Winters; Rep Nearman

Summary: The bill would take 6 percent of your pay away and redirect it to cover losses in the PERS investment fund. For new hires, this could mean as much as a 31 percent reduction in retirement benefits. The bill would also cap the “final average salary” used to calculate retirement benefits at $100,000. This cap will not go up with inflation. In less than 20 years, $100,000 will be worth about $55,000 in today’s dollars.

Recent amendments to the bill go even further. The bill would reduce the rate for pensions from 1.67 percent (or 1.5 percent for OPSRP) to 1 percent, reduce your retirement payouts by changing the way vacation and sick time are calculated, increase the retirement age to 67, and change the vesting time period.

The bill includes no new revenue.

SB 913

Sponsors: Sen Knopp

Summary: This bill includes many of the same provisions as SB 560. It would change the calculation of final average salary from three to five years and it would take 6 percent of your pay away and redirect it. The bill would increase the retirement age to 67 for non-police and fire and to 57 for police and fire. It includes no new revenue.

Click here to learn more about the debate surrounding PERS

Other Threats

HB 3013 – Lowers interest rate calculations in determining payments to PERS recipients.

SB 309 – Prevents employees enrolled in the Individual Account Program from receiving distributions as installed payments. Requires members retiring on or after January 1, 2019, to receive distributions as lump sum.

SB 791 – Eliminates limitations on hours that may be worked by retired member of Public Employees Retirement System without suspension of retirement benefits.

HB 2425 – Prohibits retired public employees from seeking future employment with the state. For example, if a firefighter retires at 55, he or she could not later get a job working for the state of Oregon without forfeiting the retirement earned while serving as a firefighter.

SB 404 – State employees are automatically enrolled in retirement plans. This bill would require employees to opt-in to retirement plans.

SB 405 – Repeals the Oregon Retirement Savings Plan – which provides retirement options to private sector workers.

What SEIU members are doing to fight back

Our union is fighting a statewide campaign to protect you from these radical changes to PERS and ensure that any proposal to address the UAL meets our guiding principles for reform.

  1. SEIU members around the state participated in a statewide day of action on March 8 and 9. Click here to see photos from the event.
  1. SEIU members joined hundreds of public employees when the first PERS legislation was up for a hearing in Salem. See media coverage here. Or, click here to hear from Barbara Walsh, one of the SEIU members to testified that day.
  1. As part of a coalition of public employee organizations, SEIU has created a website and social media presence to help inform the public about the truth behind the PERS rhetoric. See the website here and like the Facebook page here.

Take action today. One of the best things you can do to help fight back is to write and call your state legislators today. Click here to send an email.

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