North Dakota’s public employees provide quality services every day by taking care of the most vulnerable, maintaining our roads, keeping the public healthy and safe, as well as educating our children, just to name a few. It has

Gary Feist
NDU Vice President Gary Feist

been a tough couple for years for all of us because of the pandemic, staffing shortages, rising prices, and a divided state and nation due to intolerance of others. North Dakota United enables public employees with shared values to come together to advocate for the common good and the well-being of the employees who are working to make North Dakota great.

The strength of North Dakota United is based on your membership and participation in advocating for the issues that are important to all of us. With the attacks on public services, we need to work extra hard to make sure our issues are heard as the 2022 election approaches and the legislature convenes to make decisions that will be affecting the state’s ability to recruit and retain staff for all public services.

One of the biggest fights will be preserving the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System’s defined-benefit pension plan. The defined-benefit plan provides a guaranteed monthly payment providing financial stability and security to the employee and the communities in which they live.

Over the past 14 months the Legislature has been studying how to close the plan to new hires. Closing the plan will result in the fund becoming unstable over time unless significant additional contributions are made by the state and/or the employees in the plan. The Legislature’s actuary told the interim committee that closing the plan would be the biggest waste of taxpayers’ money.

NDU needs all public employees to raise their voice on this issue to make sure the defined-benefit plan is available for future employees. The retirement plan is a significant recruiting tool. With public employee salaries falling behind the market for similar jobs in the private sector, the benefit package will be the only tool the state will have to be competitive in maintaining its workforce.

You can help win the fight by participating in an NDU pension meeting, talking to your co-workers, and reaching out to your legislators so they know how important the defined-benefit plan is to you and the state’s ability to maintain its workforce. Contact NDU to join the fight!

  • Public Service Perspectives is a regular column written for United Voices magazine by North Dakota United Vice President for Public Employees Gary Feist. He can be contacted by e-mail at gary.feist@ndunited.org.