May 19, 2011
AFT Adopts Bold Plan To Strengthen and Reform Pensions
Proposal sets the record straight on public pensions and recommends the strategic use of pension assets for infrastructure.
WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers today adopted a blueprint to modernize and strengthen public pensions, improve retirement security for all Americans, move toward universal participation in Social Security, rein in excesses and strategically invest pension funds in the nation’s infrastructure.
The AFT’s blueprint is based on the union’s belief that all Americans should have a decent and dignified retirement, and that tax dollars should be spent prudently and strategically to advance the nation’s goals. The blueprint calls for an end to abuses and excessive payouts, while also debunking widely repeated misperceptions of public employee pensions, which typically are modest and funded largely through employee contributions and investment growth.
"Pensions need to be well-funded and well-managed because they help retain people who provide services that taxpayers depend on,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “But practices like end-of-career spiking and double-dipping have to be addressed,” added Weingarten, referring to measures that have inflated pension benefits for some.
The report also calls for prudent investment of pension funds to help meet the nation’s infrastructure needs, estimated to be $2.2 trillion over the next five years. “With the current fiscal crisis making it difficult for our nation to invest in our future, we need to take a serious look at how pension funds can help fill that void,” Weingarten said.
The blueprint adopted today by the AFT’s executive council provides both guidance and flexibility for carrying out the reforms. The report, produced by the AFT with outside experts, is titled “Strengthening Retirement Security and Building a Better America” and can be found at www.aft.org/pdfs/press/StrengthRetireSecurity0411.pdf. A summary of the report’s recommendations can be found at www.aft.org/pdfs/press/StrengtheningOverview0511.pdf.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.