AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, it is time to reclaim the promise of a secure retirement and to fulfill our collective obligation to ensure that all Americans, after careers of hard work and service, are able to live independent, dignified lives; and

WHEREAS, secure retirement is under attack by those who demand and pursue austerity, polarization and privatization; and

WHEREAS, America’s traditional retirement security model consisting of an employer-provided defined-benefit plan, Social Security and personal savings has unraveled for tens of millions of working-age households; and

WHEREAS, defined-benefit pension plans providing secure retirement income have been all but eliminated in the private sector, and have been the target of increasing attacks in the public sector; and

WHEREAS, only half of workers in the U.S. have access to any type of employer-sponsored retirement plan, and 38 million households have no retirement account assets; and

WHEREAS, the median retirement account balance for working households is $3,000 and just $12,000 for households near retirement, which demonstrates the failure of defined-contribution plans; and

WHEREAS, the collective retirement savings shortfall facing U.S. workers is between $7 trillion and $14 trillion, depending on which assets are counted; and

WHEREAS, in order to be reliable for the workers who earn them, retirement benefits must be fully funded and safeguarded from market volatility or changes in employers’ economic situations; and

WHEREAS, all workers must be able to count on a guaranteed stream of retirement income that allows them to maintain their standard of living after a lifetime of work; and WHEREAS, state and local public retirement systems are able to provide millions of American workers with guaranteed streams of retirement income for life because of the efficient, low-cost and professional manner in which they invest retirement assets; and

WHEREAS, 16 states are either considering legislation or taking the first steps to create state-based public-private partnerships for private sector worker retirement security where voluntary employer and employee contributions can be put into a retirement trust and overseen by a board of trustees to ensure that it is professionally managed within a diversified portfolio with low fees; and

WHEREAS, Social Security is America’s most successful anti-poverty program, providing low and moderate wage earners with much-needed guaranteed retirement income; and

WHEREAS, public pension funds must be transparent, accountable and socially responsible; and private sector retirement security must be expanded to adequately and responsibly serve our retirees and our nation:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will support efforts at the state and national levels to improve and build upon the federal Social Security and Supplemental Security Income programs; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will support efforts to set up state-based public-private partnerships in order to extend defined benefit pension plans to private sector employees whose employers choose to invest in low-cost, professionally managed plans overseen by a board of trustees; and

RESOLVED, that all workers must have a guaranteed retirement income for life that allows them as well as their spouses or partners to maintain their standard of living after a lifetime of work and which prevents all Americans from falling into poverty as they age; and

RESOLVED, that the voices of workers, employers and the community must be united to reclaim the promise of economic security and dignity for all; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT reaffirms its support for retirement security for all based on shared risk, shared responsibility between employers, employees and government, and the empowerment of plan trustees to implement investment and funding policies.