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.
Recommendations for Increased Retirement Security:
Strengthen Social Security. For decades, Social Security helped America keep its promise of a secure retirement. Today, Social Security has a $2.7 trillion surplus and will continue to be fully solvent for the next 25 years. However, Social Security benefits are less than $1,200 per month for millions of retired low-wage workers with no other source of income. We can strengthen Social Security by eliminating the taxable wage cap so that all workers pay the same percentage of their pay into the Social Security Trust Fund. If everyone pays their fair share, we could improve benefits for current retirees and ensure Social Security's solvency for future generations.
Expand Retirement Security Options for All Workers and Reduce Disparities among Workers Once They Retire
Fewer employees have access to reliable, guaranteed retirement benefits as employers move from traditional pension plans to 401(k)-style defined contribution plans. What's more, these plans do not provide sufficient funds for retirement. The median household headed by a person aged 60 to 62 with a 401(k) account has less than a quarter of what is needed to support a family. As a result, many older Americans are living in poverty. We can and should do better.
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.
Advocate for Sensible Reforms to Ensure Sustainable Public Pension Plans
SEIU has long advocated for sensible reforms that ensure sustainable public pension plans. These plans have been viable for more than 70 years providing employees with reliable, guaranteed income for retirement. Public employee pensions are also engines of economic growth for state and local economies, driving more than $1 trillion in economic impact and supporting 6.5 million American jobs.
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.