AFT Resolution

RESISTANCE TO PENSION THEFT

WHEREAS, all workers in the field of education, healthcare, public safety and public services deserve a secure and dignified retirement based upon a guaranteed stream of income that allows them to maintain a decent standard of living after a lifetime of service; and

WHEREAS, pensions are actually deferred pay for workers who have actively contributed to the growth of their fund, paid their fair share, and accepted increased employer contributions and associated benefits (such as subsidized healthcare) in lieu of raises for the sake of retirement security; and

WHEREAS, many public employees are not eligible to receive Social Security and attacks on defined-benefit pensions and Social Security in both public and private sectors combined with the promotion of defined-contribution plans, cash balance pension plans, 401Ks and personal savings in times of market instability and austerity have contributed to a retirement security crisis; and

WHEREAS, independent research and investigative reporting have revealed that the defined-benefit pensions were often chronically underfunded by corporations and public entities; and funds that should have been invested were diverted to grant huge tax subsidies to corporations and undermine employee job stability both  financially and politically; and

WHEREAS, independent research and investigative reporting have revealed how retirement security is being undermined by an unwholesome alliance between public foundations run by conservative activists and private billionaires who have manufactured the perception of a public pension crisis in order to slash modest retiree benefits and preserve expensive corporate subsidies and tax breaks; and

WHEREAS, independent research and investigative reporting have also revealed that the attacks on pensions orchestrated by wealthy investors and funds that have an interest in focusing the debate on slashing guaranteed retirement incomes rather than raising public revenue, and converting them into more efficient vehicles of private profit, which incur more costs and increase market risks to taxpayers; and

WHEREAS, the stock market crash of 2008 facilitated by Wall Street’s role in inflating the subprime loan bubble and the ensuing recession contributed enormously to the current deficits in pensions, and public workers and retirees are being forced to bear the burden while Wall Street recovers with record profits; and

WHEREAS, business interests that wanted their subsidies and tax breaks preserved convinced politicians to blame public workers with “exorbitant” pensions rather than repeal the subsidies and tax breaks after the market plunged; and

WHEREAS, despite workers having paid into their pensions, and having made a series of “shared sacrifices” in the past, employers and governments continue to take more away under the guise of “pension reforms” that place the burden on the worker and refuse to address the “pension crisis” as a revenue issue; and

WHEREAS, pensions are constantly used as an excuse to disinvest from public education, close schools, raise class sizes, terminate educators and facilitate privatization:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will support research and an investigation into the true causes, motives and intentions behind the manufactured “pension crisis”; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will help to disseminate the results of this research to its members, the public, and the appropriate legislative and legal bodies; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will lobby, and train its members to lobby legislators to oppose and reverse legislation that promotes the theft, instability and insolvency of defined-benefit pensions and associated retirement security benefits such as subsidized healthcare; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will also lobby to oppose and reverse legislation that converts defined-benefit pensions to any alternate scheme such as defined-contribution pensions, cash balance plans, 401Ks, tiered systems, or any innovations that diminish or impair the retirement security of all participants be they retired, active, veteran or newly hired.

(2014)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.