"Cost Containment" Plan Attacks Public Employee's Total Compensation
On Friday, April 21st, the House and Senate leadership of the Oregon Legislature announced a very troubling and unacceptable solution to the State’s budget deficit. The memo that was released is titled “Actions to curb future budget growth,” hits all aspects of public workers’ compensation – retirement, health benefits and salary, without even addressing the fact that Oregon is 50th in the country for corporate taxes. Below are the major attacks on public employees as outlined by Rep. Nancy Nathanson, Rep. Greg Smith, Sen. Richard Devlin, Sen. Jackie Winters, Sen. Betsy Johnson:
Steps to reduce PERS costs:
Increase current and future employees’ share in retirement costs for all public employees who are members of PERS.
Require all PERS employers to set aside excess operating funds for the prepayment of future employer costs.
Determine whether the amortization period is set for the appropriate length of time.
Ensure the PERS administrative reserves are at an appropriate level and use any excess administrative reserves to reduce the unfunded liability.
Contain health care costs for public employees:
Combine the Public Employee Benefit Board (PEBB) and the Oregon Educators Benefit Board (OEBB).
Require PEBB and OEBB to stay within a 3.4% annual growth rate.
Tie PEBB and OEBB non-primary care rates to a percentage of Medicare rates.
Compensation increases are within budget for the biennium in which they are granted and do not exceed normal growth rates for future biennia:
Manage timing of cost of living increases to restrain future roll up costs.
Any cost of living increases for employees of organizations reliant on state General Fund follow the same rules as increases for state employees.
Limit collective bargaining agreements to two years for economic issues.
Change the collective bargaining process to even numbered years so the Governor’s budget proposal includes the full cost of increases for the upcoming biennium.
Require legislative approval for the following before they may be implemented:
Reclassifications of positions
Addition of new steps to salary ranges for state positions
In addition to these attacks crossing the line, the proposal is short-sighted, there is zero analysis on the impacts this would have on the state long term. On its face the proposal may fix the budget deficit but what will it do to services, to working people, and the economy? We don’t know, nor do the authors. Additionally, it was released without any plan to raise revenue. The lack of sufficient revenue is the chief reason we are in this crisis. Legislators have a duty to do better than this. If these steps are taken it would dramatically alter what being a public employee in Oregon would look like. Our Interim Executive Director Stacy Chamberlain released this statement shortly after this plan announced.
“Attempting to balance this latest budget crisis with cuts to public employee salaries, PERS, and healthcare while our state ranks last, as in 50th in the nation, in corporate taxes is a shameful moment for our legislature. These draconian cuts to public servants across the state crosses a line and completely fails those they are meant to represent. It's time for legislators to do the job they were elected to do and represent the people of this state in this debate, not just the clientele of Oregon's business lobby.
For our members, it is time to stand up to these attacks. Our union will have more on this next week but you can start by emailing (link in the comments) your legislator today and express your justifiable outrage at the sheer failure of our representatives to fairly confront this budget crisis.”
Our union is planning a rally on the capitol steps at 12:30 PM this Friday April 28th. If you are a member who is able to make it, we need you there. It is your employment and retirement on the line.
Oregon AFSCME Council 75
1400 Tandem Ave NE
Salem, OR 97301
Phone: 503-370-2522 / 800-521-5954