Saturday, April 07, 2012

March WPEA newsletter features blow-by-blow account of 2012 Legislative battles

The March issue of The Reporter newsletter from the Wyoming Public Employees Association (WPEA/SEIU) explains how Republican extremists in the Wyoming State Legislature attacked our retirement system. After the dust cleared, the defined benefit (Pension) plan remained in place. The attempt to replace it with a defined contribution plan (401K) failed. COLAs were not eliminated but the rules were changed. A Wisconsin-style law probiting public sector collective bargaining failed on introduction. But a bill did pass creating a teired system for retirement. For those employees joining state government after Sept. 1, 2012, the retirement age goes up from 60 to 65, retirement benefits will be calculated at the top 5 years of salary (instead of top 3) and the state multiplier is reduced. This may seem a bit arcane to non-state employees but it will have an effect on those newbies hired this year. This will not affect older employees like me, but it will affect opportunities for our children and grandchildren. When you're 25, this change may not look like such a big deal. It does when you're 61, as I am now. As a union member and progressive, I was against these changes. But members of my age cohort -- Baby Boomers -- crafted the legislation and worked to enact it. What kind of legacy are they leaving their own offspring?

I have to hand it to the WPEA. It picked its battles, realizing you can't win everything in a Republican-dominated Legislature, one that's tilted further to the Right since the 2010 Tea Party-influenced elections. 
The Wyoming Retirement System is not broken, in fact, it is one of the top ten best funded systems the nation. Our intent was to focus on the more critical issues facing public employees. By doing so, we would stand a better chance of defeating the very worst bills as we indicate an openness to necessary changes but opposed to the truly bad, unnecessary changes.
Get the full story, plus specifics on voting, at

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