The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has more than 2 million public and private sector members in the United States and Canada. Our members work primarily in public service delivery, health care, and property services. These members participate in more than 50 instate, county, and municipal pension funds in 19 private ("Taft-Hartley") funds with more than $1 trillion in assets.
SEIU's members have fought long and hard to win pension benefits that will afford them a comfortable and secure retirement. This goal looms especially large for our members in low-wage jobs, who would otherwise have great difficulty accumulating the savings necessary for a secure retirement. Consequently, our union is deeply committed to ensuring that the pension funds in which our members participate continue to provide enhanced benefits and perform at a level adequate to meet their obligations.
The Capital Stewardship Program was created by the 2000 SEIU Convention to facilitate a more active partnership between SEIU and the trustees, administrators, advisors and investment managers of our members' pension savings in the pursuit of benefit improvements and of prudent, responsible, and financially sound investment policies.
SEIU takes very seriously the fiduciary duties contained in the statutes and precedents governing pension fund administration. The Capital Stewardship Program seeks to make certain that our members' pension funds are managed in a manner consistent with their long-term economic interests. We consider this our primary goal, and one that is consistent with encouraging responsible investment and proxy voting policies, active ownership and responsible business behavior by companies our funds invest in.
SEIU believes that by encouraging responsible corporate behavior, its Capital Stewardship program will cause companies in which our pension funds invest to perform better over the long-term, offer workers greater opportunities for a voice on the job and pay fair wages and benefits.
The Capital Stewardship Program also works aggressively to maintain the defined benefit pension funds of our members. We endorse the use of defined contribution plans only as a supplement to a defined benefit pension and we strongly oppose efforts to convert defined benefit systems into defined contribution plans.
To accomplish these goals, SEIU's Capital Stewardship Program helps elect and appoint effective trustees, educates and provides technical support to union trustees, promotes responsible investment and proxy voting policies, and builds close working relations with the investment consultants and managers of our members' pension funds.