BerniePDX Statement on Oregon Legislature’s Attack on Working People (PERS vote)

BerniePDX and the Portland Democratic Socialists of America condemn the Oregon Democratic supermajority’s recent vote to cut public employee retirement benefits for tens of thousands of Oregon workers. Such a cowardly capitulation to Oregon’s millionaire class is reprehensible, especially against the backdrop of a booming economy where the wealthy few expand their riches at the expense of the many.

For many Oregonians, a secure retirement is a pipe dream. But for thousands of Oregon’s teachers, public health workers, and other government employees, the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) offers some hope of dignity in old age.

PERS is deferred compensation, which was negotiated under contract. Oregon’s public workers did their part by providing years of service to Oregonians, often at the expense of lucrative careers in the private sector. It is beyond belief that so many Democrats backed by labor would stab public employees in the back.

Oregonians don’t need Democrats keen to pass special tax breaks for Nike, while raiding public employee retirement. Oregon Democrats should not merely fight tooth and nail to protect the PERS’ promise, but reach beyond—toward a secure and guaranteed retirement for all Oregonians.

We call on Governor Kate Brown to immediately veto this attack on the working class. There are many options to address the purposely-underfunded PERS liability: Increasing the amortization period, ending the runaway management fees siphoned off by Wall Street, and taxing the wealthy.

Lastly, we recognise the leadership of the Portland Association of Teachers, who compiled the helpful graphic below, which shows the Portland-area Democrats who voted to betray public workers. We encourage everyone to contact your representatives and demand accountability.

BerniePDX and Portland DSA will continue to build a movement with our allies fighting for working people. Join us!

Infographic created by Portland Association of Teachers (PAT)