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President's Post

Public Employee Retirement Security

At ND United, we are steadfast in our opposition to closing the defined benefit plan.
North Dakota United President	Nick Archuleta speaks into microphones at a press conference. Behind him there is a glimpse of the American flag and the North Dakota flag.
Published: January 9, 2022

I hope this message finds you and yours well after celebrating the Holidays with friends and family.  Though the Holidays can be a bit hectic, they do provide the best opportunity to reconnect and recharge with the ones we love.

I want to start the New Year by thanking each of you for the excellent and dedicated service you provide to communities across North Dakota.  Your work, regardless of your job responsibilities, serve to strengthen our state and lay the groundwork for a bright future for generations of North Dakotans to come.

The work you do is not easy and doing it in the throes of a pandemic is even more challenging.  Still, you persevere because you know the work you do is work worth doing and worthy of your efforts and expertise.  So, again, thank you for your excellent work and for your membership in North Dakota United.

As I write this, ND United is tracking issues that matter to you and the people you serve.  One such issue involves public employee retirement security.

Earlier this week, I attended the Retirement Committee meeting. As you know, this committee was established after the legislature failed to pass a bill that would have ended the PERS Defined Benefit Retirement Plan (DB).  The Retirement Committee has been assigned the task of developing a procedure to close the DB plan to new employees beginning January 1, 2024.

As I wrote in the introduction to an article we shared on the ND United Facebook page, “At ND United, we are steadfast in our opposition to closing the defined benefit plan and the further diminution of benefits of ND’s public employees.”

There are certain facts that we have and will continue to share with the Committee:

  • The PERS plan is on a path to be fully funded by 2060.
  • Closing the plan will make it far more difficult to recruit and retain the high caliber talent needed to provide the outstanding services North Dakotans expect and deserve.
  • ND’s public employees have not seen an increase in benefits in 23 years. Yet, just three years ago, the legislature voted to end a medical benefits provision for retirees, over the objection of NDU.
  • Closing the plan will be complicated. There are many unanswered questions related to the political subdivisions whose employees are part of the plan.
  • Closing the plan will be expensive. Though an exact amount has not yet been clarified, estimates peg the cost at between $1.4B and $2.8B.

At the end of the day, the Retirement Committee agreed to hire Milliman, a risk management company, to advise the committee on how best to meet their goal. Milliman has experience in this area but at the meeting, company reps said that they may sometimes have to tell committee members things they may not want to hear.

It is clear that some on this committee are looking for a quick fix. The will be disappointed.  And ND United will be there every step of the way working tirelessly to protect retirement security for current and future resolute public employees.

That’s it for now. Have a great start to your week and congrats Bison fans!


Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education & Public Services

With more than 11,500 members across the state, NDU supports equal opportunities for success for ALL North Dakota students, and respect and support for all educators. NDU members are teachers, community college professors, speech pathologists, bus drivers, secretaries, retired educators and student teachers.