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Monday, January 03, 2011

No Expectations

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.

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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.






Marcia said...

Dear Sir,

As a close to retiring Tier I member your blog is both entertaining and informing. You have mentioned the advantage of being retired as of March 1, 2011. What if the legislature were to make a decision (negatively affecting myself) in February 2011 and then had this decision become effective March 1, 2011. Shouldn't I be pro active and be retired February 1st, 2011 to avoid the potential negative decision(s)? I realize that each month that I retire earlier will have an impact on my monthly pension on the order of about 0.7 % but weighed against some of the possible decisions and subsequent losses, it seems like this may be prudent.

Your thoughts would be much appreciated.

mrfearless47 said...


If you wanted to be double-dog sure that you weren't affected by anything the Lege could possibly do, then retiring on Feb 1, 2011 would be optimal. The 3/1/11 date is based on the observation that the Legislature is incapable of finding its own offices during the first month of the session, and it generally takes 6-8 weeks before bills start moving around where action is possible. But, if you want certainty (insofar as such is possible), going on 2/1/11 would be preferential.

Hope that helps.

TruthSeeker said...

Marc...Did Ronnie Raygun pay any attention to the "contracts" of the PATCO Flight Controlers when he canned them all and drastically escalated the republican assault on organized labor?

mrfearless47 said...

No. Reagan ignored the contract and effectively did what the legislature *could * do by terminating all employees on one day and hiring them back a day later without any contract. This is very unlikely this time around and so far it isn't on Antibes radar.

Paulette said...

Dear Sir,

I will retire tenatively 7-1-2011, I am a Tier2 and IAP member with 10years employment as of 7-1-2011.

With the up and coming changes to PERS would it be advantage to retire before 7-1-2011 or after that date. I'm so confused.

mrfearless47 said...

Paulette: I'm pretty certain that whatever changes are made won't harm Tier 2 members close to retirement. At a minimum, I'd like to see you complete 10 years so that any changes to the vesting requirement for receiving the COLA wouldn't affect you. The confusion you are experiencing is deliberate. Dennis Richardson (R-Gold Hill) has made such a hash of so many bills this session that confusion is the name of the game. In your case, however, I don't see the changes as negative unless you bail out early. You're in the opposite boat of many Tier 1 members who have much more at stake with the current bucket of bills.

Good luck to you.