SEIU Campaigning For Retirement Security

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The Service Employees International Union is campaigning to increase retirement security and pushing back against right-wing myths about the true costs of public employee pensions in the wake of more than a year of direct attacks on those pensions by Republicans in the states.

The mission on retirement security:

After working hard and playing by the rules, working people should be able to retire with dignity and security. This is a fundamental part of the American Dream. But the Wall Street-induced housing crisis and stock market crash jeopardized this dream for countless public and private sector workers.

SEIU is promoting three basic policies towards making sure this happens. The first is protecting Social Security by eliminating the cap on taxes for the wealthy, which would extend the funding for the program for many years to come. The second and third parts of the plan deals with private and public pensions:

Our efforts to help deliver retirement security to all include exploring new models for private sector retirement plans that allow workers to set aside wages through a vehicle that provides guaranteed retirement income, as well as strengthening the rules for existing multi-employer and single-employer defined benefit funds to protect their participants.


Recent attacks on public pensions and subsequent statewide pension "reforms" jeopardize the retirement security of millions of teachers, police officers, bus drivers, nurses and other public sector workers, many of whom do not receive Social Security. We are committed to addressing this issue with comprehensive solutions. In the last two years alone, public employee unions have negotiated pension solutions that have saved the taxpayers nearly $600 million in California. Our efforts include safeguarding against all forms of cheating or abuse, and ensuring everybody pays their fair share, and all pension fund trustees, staff and service providers adhere to the highest ethical and fiduciary standards, devoid of conflicts of interest.

SEIU also issued a fact sheet that takes on a number of the right-wing myths that are being spread in an attempt to build support for cutting public pensions. The key points:

  • Seven out of 10 public employee pensions are less than $30,000 a year, making them anything but lavish.
  • Taxpayers pay little to no part of these pensions, which are funded by employee contributions and investment returns.
  • Public pensions have survived for 70 years with no problem and only had any problems because of the financial crash, most of them are starting to return to their earlier strength.
  • Public employees have shown a strong willingness to negotiate to improve pension systems and to work with governments to make through during tough economic times.
  • Massive cuts to public employee pensions will not benefit the economy much or solve state budget crisis, but will be massively destructive to working families.
  • There is no correlation between states that have underfunded pensions and the level of unionization among state workers -- unions are not driving the problems we see with pension funding.

    Those interested in staying informed about SEIU's campaign for retirement security can sign up for updates on their web site.

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