October 11, 2011

WFSE/AFSCME sues to reinstate PERS-1 Uniform COLA

The Federation Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 11) filed suit in Thurston County Superior Court to stop the state's repeal of the uniform cost-of-living adjustment promised to those in the PERS 1 retirement system - current and future retirees.

The Legislature this year passed SHB 2021 to repeal the uniform COLA created in 1995. SHB 2021 and the repeal took effect June 30.

The Federation lawsuit says that action violates the state constitution and due process rights and is a breach of contract.

One other charge in layman's terms is: You can't promise something and then take it away.

The PERS 1 Uniform COLA is an automatic, annual COLA for PERS 1 retirees. It is paid in the first calendar year in which the recipient turns age 66 and has been retired for one year. The amount of the payment is a fixed dollar amount multiplied by the member's total years of service.

PERS 1 covers state employees hired before October 1977. That covers about 33,385 retirees already getting the COLA, 12,969 retirees not yet eligible for it and 18,524 in PERS 1 and TRS 1 (teachers) who have not yet retired.

It is believed the Washington Education Association and the Retired Public Employees Council of Washington/AFSCME will file separate lawsuits.

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