Oregon Supreme Court Rules Against Public Employees in Pers Lawsuit

On Thursday, August 6, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled in James v. Oregon. Below is a statement on the ruling from OSEA President Lisa Gourley:

This morning, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled in James v. Oregon, the lawsuit challenging cuts to the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) under Senate Bill (SB) 1049. I am disappointed to report that the court ruled against public employees to uphold cuts to our retirement benefits.

SB 1049 allows the state to take money out of our Individual Account Programs (IAPs), resulting in the loss of thousands of dollars for many public employees, including OSEA members. Simply put, this is wrong — these retirement benefits were promised to us as part of our compensation for a career in public service. Removing funds from our accounts amounts to theft.

While the ruling is a blow, the fight for our pensions and our rights is far from over. I am proud of the work OSEA has done, along with our fellow unions, to challenge SB 1049 and hold lawmakers accountable for their broken promises. We backed this lawsuit as part of the Keep Oregon’s Promise Coalition, and OSEA member Jennifer James of Molalla River Chapter 110 was the lead plaintiff. The OSEA Board also voted unanimously to withhold endorsements in the 2020 election from any legislator who voted for SB 1049.

We will continue to challenge this injustice and fight for our retirement benefits. Our solidarity is our strength, and it matters now more than ever. We cannot expect this to be the last attempt to weaken our benefits and we will need to stay vigilant and united against future attacks. Thank you for standing with us. We will keep you informed as the fight continues.

In unity,
Lisa Gourley
OSEA President