Even a Eugene area Teamster and Union Shop Steward grudgingly awakens…

repost from :



While watching the protests in Wisconsin I remembered this quote from Willie Brown – former ultra liberal (D) CA Assemblyman and San Francisco Mayor who said; “The deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life,” Brown asserted. “But we politicians — pushed by our friends in labor — gradually expanded pay and benefits . . . while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages. . . . This is politically unpopular and potentially even career suicide . . . but at some point, someone is going to have to get honest about the fact.”  Even Willie “gets it.”  And now the voters of liberal Wisconsin “get it.” When will the unions and the educated finally understand what broke really means? Look at the GM example…

  I don’t begrudge anyone a fair wage, pension or health plan- and I do appreciate our Teachers and Public servants who work hard, but… reality insists that we all understand we are broke.  Every state is facing the same problem- many of us have been sounding the alarm for years, yet the old tin- can continued to be kicked down the road. Now we see the end of the road and sacrifices must be made- the road is no longer paved with the spoils of the taxpayers for the public workers to enjoy. The inherent problems with all of these defined benefit public pension plans is basically three-fold.

  1.  They guarantee an 8% return on investment + many (like Oregon PERS Tier 1 Plan) also provide a 2% COLA to retirees.
  2. The 100 year average return from the NYSE (according to Warren Buffett) is 5.3%.
  3. The public sector employee generally has no real “skin in the game” concerning pensions and health insurance.

  This simple equation can be understood by grade school children – 10% is MORE THAN 5.3%. HELLO! ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A 5th GRADER! Whenever the return on these pensions falls below 8% the tax payers pay the difference.  Eugene 4J School District (16,500 students) spends 31% of payroll on PERS (approximately $40 million per year)-  Oakridge Schools spend 29% of payroll on PERS- ridiculously flawed public pensions are cannibalizing  public education and basic public services such as fire and police. Despite a Jan. 1, 2011 Oregon PERS cost increase of 6% (to the taxpayer) some mis-guided folks in Eugene are backing a new local income tax to support Eugene schools.  A somewhat noble but bad move! The money is there to educate, protect and provide basic services – not to propagate extravagant pensions that in the real world would require one to save $1 million in an annuity. Nor is the money intended to pay for “Cadillac Health Insurance” plans that are unaffordable to the private sector. Simply put- We are; “Taxed Enough Already.” It’s time for public employees to have some “skin in the game.”


                                                        Rob DeHarpport

                                                        (30 year Teamster and 20 yr. Union Shop Steward)

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