Keep SAIF out of PERS debate
My company, OHI Construction, has been in business since 1952 specializing in disaster restoration of homes and businesses in Oregon and Washington. I am a lawyer licensed in both states and have run OHI Construction since 2005 as a third generation family owner. My legal background, as well as lifelong experience with the construction trades and the communities we serve, provides me with a unique perspective into the issues affecting our industry sector.
I am writing to express my concern over the proposal to use SAIF reserve funds as a "cure" to the PERS shortfall. As a construction contractor, workplace safety is critical to the success of any project. It is a high priority in our workforce and we expect the same of our subcontractors.
Here in Oregon we have the somewhat unique benefit of a worker's compensation insurer in SAIF that has found a sweet spot of ensuring affordable coverage while also being a model for workplace safety programs. The company leverages premiums that employers like us pay to help us all reduce risk and avoid major claims that can happen in industries like construction. Their success in doing so has kept premiums affordable and allowed them to build reserves sufficient to protect workers next time the economy dips.
Unfortunately, some politicians look at SAIF's reserves and see a big pot of money that they think they can divert for other pet projects or to cover our state's public pension deficit. Not only would doing so destabilize SAIF and their important safety programs, but it might even be illegal. Legislators tried to do the same thing in the 1980s and the courts made the state pay SAIF back with interest.
Protect workplace safety and protect SAIF. Don't let politicians rob our
worker's compensation and safety programs of money that doesn't belong to them.
Rachel C. George
Co-owner, OHI Construction
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)