Union officials continue to seek more information on the OHSU private pension plan. But Steve Delaney, the legislative liaison for PERS, says a review of employers run immediately after word of the suit¹s filing showed OHSU was ³typical² in its payment schedule to his agency.
“There was nothing unusual about OHSU’s reports,” said Delaney. “Some employers are more consistent than others, but OHSU doesn’t stand out — especially considering how big they are.” Delaney notes PERS has to run contributions from OHSU (or any employer) through the agency’s “eligibility filter” to make sure they are properly identified and tagged to the right account. The high number of part-time people working at OHSU slows this process.
While a delay in crediting could mean missing out on some interest money, both Delaney and PERS Coalition attorney Greg Hartman agree the amount is small enough that it has a miniscule impact on the overall picture. The amount in question is only the interest on any one payment; the rest of the account balance still gets full interest crediting.
Moreover, there’s a plan in place to “smooth” the process so the issue goes away. PERS is working on a proposal that Hartman and the PERS Coalition support to go back to annual, rather than monthly, account crediting. That’s the way Tier 1 and Tier 2 accounts were always figured before the advent of the IAPs, says Hartman.
“If you figure it on an annual basis, most of the concern about timeliness goes away,” said Hartman. “It doesn’t matter if the payment is credited on the 5th of one month, the 10th of the next month, the 3rd of the next month and so on. All that matters is that over the course of the year, all of the payments are made, and then interest gets credited retroactively for the entire year.”
Delaney said the annual crediting proposal looks to go to the PERS board sometime this summer. If the board adopts it, Delaney expects PERS to go back through 2004, 2005 and 2006 and recalculate interest earnings under the annual crediting plan, which would make up any lost interest employees may have suffered under the monthly crediting scheme.
Hartman emphasizes that the PERS Coalition has always kept an eye on this issue, not just for OHSU but for all employers paying into PERS, which includes well over 100 jurisdictions or agencies whose employees are AFSCME-represented.
“If we get to the point where there are ‘chronic’ late payers, PERS will have to deal with that,” said Hartman. “But the board has indicated they’re OK with that. This is not an issue we’re fighting with them over. We have been monitoring this for some time, we’ve raised some flags and PERS has worked with us.
“At this point, this is not an issue of major concern. But we’ll continue to keep an eye on it.”
Since AFSCME has long established relationships with PERS, information about the PERS system is a bit easier for us to develop than information about OHSU's UPP. However, we are continuing to look into the story and when we have something substantive to report, we will do so promptly.