I have been a little disheartened by the characterization of public employees that has been printed in the East Oregonian regarding PERS retirements and retirees.
The EO has stated on numerous occasions that state employees receive a “lavish” retirement through PERS. Although there are doctors, or college presidents, or former U of O football coaches (GO DUCKS) who have managed to get very lavish PERS retirements, I think everyone knows that those are very few and far between. Out of 132,000 PERS retirees, the average PERS retiree gets $2,250 per month. I don’t think anyone would consider that a lavish retirement, yet the EO has painted all of us working class folks with the same brush that they use on people sitting on the mountaintop in their golden chair.
I would highly doubt that any of those PERS retirees with the lavish retirements would know what it’s like to wrestle a felon to the ground at 1 a.m. in order to keep the public safe. I doubt they would have any idea about teaching first-graders how to read, and then spend their own hard-earned money on supplies for the kids in their classrooms. They wouldn’t have a clue about how to handle a 5-on-1, or an 8-on-1, gang fight in a prison where the officer is dodging weapons while trying to save a life. They would keel over if they had to drive a snow plow and stay awake for 30 hours at a time plowing roads, so that other people can make it home to see their loved ones. And the list goes on and on!
When people talk negatively about PERS retirees and spread misinformation about these supposed “lavish” retirements, and then spend all of their time trying to figure out how to cut even more money from the retirements of these hard-working Oregonians, they are talking about police officers, teachers, correctional officers, nurses, road department employees, firefighters, and many other people who work their tails off day in and day out to protect us and/or educate our children. So when someone writes in to attack public employees about the retirement that they earned for themselves and their families, these are the people they are attacking.
Additionally, for those who don’t have a retirement? Please feel free to come and join us, because all these agencies are hiring!