Happy New Year to All. The next year promises to test our mettle and our souls. Between the Legislature, the media, and the public, PERS members aren't expected to be treated with respect, kindness, or consideration. We need to get past this and not take is so personally. The Legislature is charged with the task of balancing Oregon's budget; they have limited ways to do this. Our objective is to remind the legislature that we performed our tasks and our work in GOOD FAITH and we expect the Legislature and the State Government (and local government) to honor the agreements we made with them. We accepted substandard pay to get above standard retirement. That's a fact that is beyond dispute. Honoring contracts is a good thing and states that do not honor employment contracts will find that private employee unions dislike doing business with public employers when they don't live up to their contracts. Our objective this year should be to 1) not whine; 2) present facts clearly; 3) assert the primacy of the contract and that bilateral contracts cannot be changed unilaterally. Contract, contract, contract, contract is the word for the day. Keep that word front and center in your discussions with friends and legislators. The American system of democracy is found on the Uniform Commercial Code, which holds that contracts must be upheld by both parties. If one party does not wish to uphold its part of the contract, its only choice is to seek concessions from the other party. The rules do not permit one party to unilaterally pick up its ball, arbitrarily change the terms of the contract, and expect all problems to disappear. The courts are cluttered with instances where contracts have been broken and the courts have to set the parties back on the correct path.
So as we enter into the Legislative silly season, please keep the fact on contract uppermost in your mind. You, as a public employee or retiree, did everything that was asked of you to keep your part of the employment contract. You, in turn, expect the public employers and PERS to do everything it is required to do to uphold its part of the multilateral agreement. Period, end of discussion.
Thanks to all my readers for using the Amazon links to the left of this blog to purchase their goodies and gifts from Amazon.com. Those links bring a small commission from every purchase you make from Amazon and apply them to the costs of time, energy, and hosting of this blog and the associated web site. You pay nothing extra for using these links, but I get a small referral fee for anything you purchase through Amazon. Believe it or not, it is possible to receive enough income from Amazon to keep a website like this blog running efficiently for a full year. Do not feel obligated to purchase the advertised items from Amazon. You can simply use these links to get you to the Amazon site. Once there from this site, anything you purchase will be credited to a referral from this site. So, keep the support rolling in by purchasing goods you'd purchase anyway by going through this PERS blog. Its the way we keep life interesting and by inspiring new posts on a semi-regular basis. The more money I receive for referrals to Amazon, the more I feel like writing because I know that my extra words will not end up costing me more. I thank all who have purchased Amazon goods through a referral on this site. It really helps cut down the expenses of running this blog.
The Legislature convenes on February 1, 2011. I expect to be posting every couple of days to keep you updated on what our friends in the land of the sillies are proposing. Obviously I won't post on things unrelated to PERS, but things related to health care and others related to retirement will be covered.
This coming Thursday - January 6 - the Oregon Supreme Court will hold oral arguments in the Arken and Robinson cases. These cases both apply, primarily, to window retirees and I expect to be at the Oregon Supreme Court at 1:30 to listen to testimony and arguments. While I don't expect an instant verdict, I do expect the Court to issue their final ruling in a relatively short period of time since the Legislature is in session and they may want to Legislature to take some action that will facilitate the final ruling. Watch this space on Friday for a possible court update.