AFT’s Weingarten and CTU’s Sharkey on Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund’s Divestment from Private Prisons
WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statements after the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund added immigration detention and other private incarceration centers to its list of prohibited investments.
AFT’s Weingarten said: “Private prison operators are officially on notice. Teachers and the trustees of their pension systems will now question whether their retirement savings are invested in morally abhorrent detention centers that are both a stain on our nation and a risky financial bet.
“When we released our asset manager watch list last week to pension trustees, we urged them to scrutinize whether their retirement systems were holding GEO Group, CoreCivic and General Dynamics stock—firms profiting from the separation of children and detention of families seeking asylum in the United States because of oppression in their home countries. Today we are heartened and encouraged by CTPF’s swift and sensible action to uphold its fiduciary duty to our members’ retirement security.
“In New York City, Chicago and elsewhere, the guardians of teachers’ deferred wages are rightly rejecting firms that profit off the Trump administration’s policies of family separation and mass incarceration targeting communities of color, while employing low-wage, unprotected employees. They can no longer abide by an industry that dehumanizes and endangers the immigrants and working people this country was built on.
“The AFT Trustee Council, which works with trustees who oversee more than $3 trillion in assets, is reviewing our report, and we urge other funds to consider divestment at the earliest opportunity.”
CTU’s Sharkey said: “Our union members serve tens of thousands of immigrant students in our schools, and we’re committed to taking any and all steps to protect their families from disruption or repression. That includes our refusal to support corporations that seek to profit from the national attack on immigrants—the same corporations that continue to profit from the mass incarceration of black people and the harm that continues to visit the families of our black students.
“We’re delighted that our pension fund has taken steps to ensure that we do not commit a single penny to the profits of these companies. We also encourage CTPF to create safeguards to prevent our fund from investing in harmful investment schemes in the future.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 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.