Contact:
Keiana Greene-Page, Keiana.Greene-Page@seiu.org, 202-730-7439

Issued March 30, 2017

SEIU: Senate undermines U.S. cities’ ability to address retirement poverty

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Service Employees International Union Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker and 32BJ SEIU Vice President Gabe Morgan spoke out Thursday after members of the U.S. Senate voted to roll back Department of Labor guidelines for municipal retirement plans such as those being explored in Seattle, New York City and Philadelphia.

 At a time when our economic and political systems have been rigged to favor corporations over working people, these plans would take a strong step in addressing our nation’s retirement crisis. Working families who are fed up with our broken system are working harder and longer but still are facing the threat of retiring into poverty. Since California’s landmark legislation was passed in 2012, nearly half of all states and several major cities have explored legislation to create new retirement plans for private-sector workers who don’t have access to a plan at work. These bills have repeatedly been met with opposition from groups representing large financial institutions and insurance companies who view these plans as competition.

“Today’s vote is a setback for millions of hardworking families, advocacy groups and responsible lawmakers who have fought for these municipal and state-based plans. However, the movement to deliver retirement security to more working families doesn’t stop with these resolutions,” said Walker, who chairs SEIU’s Retirement Security Committee. “Working parents, grandparents and Millennials around the country will continue to put pressure on their elected officials to address the retirement crisis.”

“The Senate had an opportunity to help cities ensure that hardworking Americans wouldn’t have to live in poverty in their old age. Instead, lawmakers chose let us down by continuing to rig the system against everyday people in favor of large financial institutions and insurance companies. Many of the financial institutions that have pushed for these resolutions have already ignored the retirement needs of ordinary working people who can’t afford their products,” said Morgan. “It is imperative that the Senate remembers that retirement poverty will have a devastating impact on our country when it considers the resolution on state-based plans.” 

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