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AEE Members,

The PERS reform discussion at the Oregon State Legislature is generating much concern and worry among AEE members and public employees statewide. The AEE Office and your local AEE representatives are fielding questions daily from members seeing certainty about what will take place, when any changes could take effect, and how all of this will impact them.

The Legislature are considering several changes to PERS. The changes being proposed would lower public employee's retirement benefits, here is what is being proposed:

  • The final average salary, which is used to estimate your retirement benefit, would be calculated by the last 5 years instead of the current 3 years. 
  • Final average salary cap limit of $100,000.
  • Reductions in pension multipliers.
  • Redirecting member contributions.
  • Tier 3 (OPSRP) retirement age increased from 65 to 67. Early retirement increased from 55 to 57.
  • Halving or eliminating sick leave and vacation payouts for the calculation of final average salary, which affect tier 1 and tier 2 retirees.
  • New employees increased "wait time" to become PERS members from 6 months to 12 months.

Some of those changes are more likely to withstand a court challenge than others, but that’s never stopped the Legislature before from enacting reforms that would come back to haunt them. AEE is part of the coalition of PERS impacted labor unions that continually fights back to preserve your PERS benefits, and we will continue to do so through the very effective work conducted by the coalition.

One way to better understand the proposed changes and to calculate the potential impacts for your personal situation is to visit http://keeporegonspromise.org , which has explainers for the bills, stories from PERS members, and information about how to impact the discussion as a public employee by sharing your story.

Another way to understand PERS better is to view the testimony given by the Director of PERS to the Oregon Senate Workforce committee considering the changes. His presentation is very informative, and you can find it here:

http://oregon.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=22986

And find the exhibits from presented at that legislative committee meeting here:

https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Committees/SWF/2017-03-22-15-00/MeetingMaterials

What can you do to impact this discussion?. Two very simple things:

  1. Start following the progress of the bills.
    1. SB 559: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/SB559
    2. SB 560: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/SB560
    3. SB 913: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/SB913
  2. Contact your legislative representatives
    1. Find out who your representative is here: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/findyourlegislator/leg-districts.html
    2. Tell your story! Tell your story about how the PERS reforms being considered could harm you, your community, and your state.
      1. Watch for Town Hall meetings in your area- face to face conversations about how the reforms impact you are most effective.
      2. Phone, email, or snail mail your representatives and the members of the committees hearing these bills about your concerns.
      3. Attend committee meetings at the Capitol and testify in person with your story.

You can try to make an impact on how PERS reform turns out if you take the time to make your views known to the legislators making the decisions. AEE continues to advocate on your behalf through AEEPAC and the PERS Coalition to limit the negative impacts of any potential reform. That said, there is nothing more effective and relevant to an elected official than having one of their constituents standing before them telling them why the bill they’re about to vote on will cost them a vote for re-election in the future.

Now is the time to make your voice heard- reach out to your elected officials at the Legislature and let them know your views! If you want to volunteer to visit the Legislature while it is in session to meet with representatives, please contact a member of the AEEPAC Board to make arrangements to join us.

In Unity,

Jody Frasier, AEE PAC Board President
Cesar Lopez, AEE PAC Board Vice President
Marie Kennedy, AEE PAC Board Secretary/Treasurer
Melissa Sutkowski, AEE PAC Board Member
Ray Hubbell, AEE PAC Board Member

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The Association of Engineering Employees of Oregon (AEE) represents over 1,000 engineering and technical employees working for the Oregon Department of Transportaion, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and the Oregon State Department of Forestry.  If you would like to see a brief overview of our history, be sure to look at the About page.

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