Published: April 9, 2019

All workers deserve fair wages, affordable health care, and assurance that you will be financially secure upon retirement. Prior to forming a union, Oregon homecare workers had none of these basic needs met despite performing difficult and important jobs caring for our most vulnerable community members. After fighting for and winning wage increases after forming a union, homecare workers now have a pathway to retirement.

With our union’s support, the Oregon State Legislature passed HB 2960 in 2015, establishing an innovative state-sponsored retirement savings plan, OregonSaves. The plan was implemented for employers with 100 or more employees in 2017, making Oregon the first state in the nation to offer a public-private retirement savings program. OregonSaves has been made available for workers at smaller businesses in a series of expansions and is now accessible to workers for employers with at least 20 employees. All eligible working Oregonians will be able to access OregonSaves by next May.

Unless employees opt out, savings are automatically deducted from their paychecks and invested in their OregonSaves accounts. Like Roth IRAs, contributions are taken from paychecks after taxes so they can be withdrawn in retirement tax-free. By default, 5% of a worker’s paycheck is moved into their OregonSaves account, but they can choose to save more or less and to select different investment strategies.

Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a branch of the Federal Government, proposed a rule that attempts to stop us from paying our union dues and benefits through our own paychecks. This rule is an attempt to weaken our voice and our ability to come together to improve the work we love.

While the proposed rule could prevent us from contributing our own wages to support our union, it could also have other consequences for us as homecare workers. By limiting deductions out of our paychecks, the proposed rule could block homecare worker participation in OregonSaves.

Our members joined thousands of workers from around the country to oppose the proposed CMS rule during the comment period. Nonetheless, the rule is expected to become official soon and we are prepared to continue our fight for your right to choose how to spend your money.

We know that people with access to a retirement savings account through their employer are 15 times more likely to save for their retirement. No one deserves to work hard all of their life and be left with little to nothing when they need it most. We fought hard to see OregonSaves come online and will fight hard to ensure that it is always there for homecare workers and all Oregon workers.

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