Rep. Richardson: Make Oregon Workers Pay Toward Benefits

Tuesday, 15 Mar 2011 03:29 PM

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A Republican lawmaker in Oregon wants to take a page from Wisconsin’s playbook for curtailing union power, so he is proposing pension and health insurance changes for public employees. "If I had the power, I would implement similar reforms in Oregon," state Rep. Dennis Richardson told the Medford Mail Tribune.
Richardson, co-chairman of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, has proposed changes to the state’s retirement plan for public workers and their health insurance, asking them to contribute a portion of the premiums. Oregon public employees contribute nothing to health insurance premiums.
Both proposals together would save more than $500 million as the state tries to climb out of a $3.5 billion budget hole.
Richardson acknowledges that he does not have the same support in Oregon for the reform as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker did. Walker signed a law Friday eliminating most collective bargaining rights for public-employee unions.
Richardson criticized the unions for their inflexibility, saying, “My experience is the unions don't care about compromise — they care about control.”

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