History of PGE Retirees Inc.
PGE Retirees Inc. is a non-profit organization of volunteers and has been a part of the PGE Corporate portfolio of systems and benefits for employees for many decades. Firmly rooted in the past norm for “life-time employment”, employees often retired with 20, 30, or 40 years of service in one company; especially true for Portland General Electric and utilities in general. Retirees were advocates and extensions of PGE Corporate operations (e.g. pensions, benefits, events, mutual advocates for PGE success). However, the norm changed. January 1, 2020, PGE Corporate outsourced much of the Human Resources (HR) systems and benefits programs to allow retirees to choose from a much larger set of options for who and how benefits are received. This initiative also terminated the systems and support for the PGE Retirees Inc organization.
• No PGE central database of contact information for retirees
• No sharing of retirees’ contact information
• No PGE services for print and mail of retiree newsletters
• No automatic membership in the PGE Retirees non-profit organization
It was a difficult and intimidating challenge to a retiree organization which has been so dependent upon PGE Corporate systems and services. Then Covid 19 changed things even more.
As Charles Dickens wrote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Year 2020 was a year of both hope and despair. Outsourcing of PGE Corporate’s HR systems and benefits for retirees did give retirees an expanded set of choices for benefits. This also challenged retirees to develop new relationships with new benefit providers and systems; dealing with people on the phone who didn’t know us and couldn’t relate to us as fellow PGE people. PGE Corporate did provide continued financial support and mutual advocacy to the PGE Retiree organization, but the challenge was to find volunteers to build new systems and services now terminated as part of PGE Corporate’s outsourcing initiative. Our volunteers developed a new database system, created email and print functions, recruited additional Facebook Group membership, and began creating a new website to support retirees’ interests. By the end of 2020, there were over 800 retirees who have signed up in our database to stay informed, stay connected, and stay active through sports and social groups. Over 400 also joined the Facebook private group for PGE Retirees. Year 2020 also brought us a world pandemic with Covid-19. Cancelled in-person summer and winter events, cancelled tours and trips, cancelled indoor sports and recreation, cancelled neighborhood gatherings at the local coffee shops. Our volunteers developed ZOOM capabilities for online meetings and gatherings. An online webinar service was used for the annual Christmas gathering, with special guests Maria Pope, Anne Mesereau, and the Two-Bit Brothers musical group, Bill Valach and Dwaine Wisthoff.
Year 2021 is having a rough start with the peak of the pandemic still in front of us, but hope is growing for a vaccine and a return to greeting each other with hugs and handshakes instead of digital Zoom greetings such as “unmute yourself so I can hear you”. Our retiree organization has high hopes for a better year. With the systems and services built last year, our communications committee of volunteers plans on a busy year:
NEWS: via email (90% of members) at least every two months, and a printed version every four months (USMail for about 10% of members)
WEBSITE: a resource for finding news, networking, activities and advocacy opportunities
FACEBOOK: a closed private group of over 400 current and retireed employees and their families
YOUTUBE: Videos of retirees’ events
EDUCATIONAL WEBINARS: in each quarter of 2021 we will host one or more Zoom webinar sessions on topics of interest to retirees: technology for retirees, changes coming in benefit options, community advocacy opportunities.
ZOOM: our summer and Christmas events will likely utilize Zoom again. We are currently hosting the Maplewood Neighborhood get-togethers, and consider hosting other requests from retirees for Zoom support.
Perhaps Dickens would agree with us regarding 2021 – while we are currently in the deep “winter of despair”, we are confident and optimistic that “the spring of hope” is assured and will bring us a “season of light” by the end of the year.
May happiness and health find their way to your door,
John McLain, Communications Chair and Director, PGE Retirees Inc.
Judy Francis, one of our volunteers, is researching the history of PGE Retirees Inc. This will be a brief history of the various organizations of PGE retirees (i.e., PGE Pastimers) up to and including PGE Retirees Inc. 2020 If possible, it will include links to articles in archived PGE company newsletters, such as PGE Bullseye. If anyone has any contributions to this page, please contact Judy via PGERetirees@gmail.com.
History of Portland General Electric (PGE Corporate)
There will also be a summary of Portland General Electric history, with links to PGE Corporate, the Oregon Historical Society, and other sources. For example: