We are the Service Employees International Union,
an organization of more than 2.1 million members
united by the belief in the dignity and worth of
workers and the services they provide and dedicated
to improving the lives of workers and their families
and creating a more just and humane society.
- SEIU mission statement
The economic crisis -- and the Wall Street excesses and corporate abuses that drove it -- has put a secure retirement at risk for everyone. Instead of cutting pensions for public employees and force more retirees into poverty, we're working together to help deliver retirement security to more people.
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The term “public pensions” is often used to describe the traditional defined benefit (DB) pension plans that help deliver retirement security to millions of public sector workers. Unlike 401(k) style defined contribution plans, DB plans provide workers with modest, guaranteed benefits.
Public pension investments also play a vital role in stimulating the US economy and creating jobs. Public pensions have been under pressure in the wake of the recent economic downturn. However, SEIU and our sector union partners are committed to ensuring public pensions are protected, strong and sustainable for current workers and future generations.
The road to retirement has become very rocky for private sector workers as the number of corporations offering secure defined-benefit pension plans steadily declines. More workers are now relying on risky 401(k)-style defined contribution plans for retirement --or have no plan at all. This decline has fueled a looming retirement income crisis that threatens the American Dream for every working family.
SEIU firmly believes that retirement should not be a race to the bottom in America. We are committed to working with allies and policy makers to create new, innovative private sector models that lead to greater retirement security for all workers that don’t have a pension.
"Taft-Hartley plans" refer to the multi-employer pension plans collectively bargained by a union and a group of employers, usually in related industries. Taft-Hartley plans are governed by a trust, half of whose trustees are appointed by the employers, and half by the union. This retirement plan model has enabled tens of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses to provide workers with the traditional defined benefit pensions that used to be standard among larger employers, but have now virtually disappeared in the non-unionized private sector.
Since their creation, a number of federal regulations including the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974 and subsequent amendments have changed the regulation of multi-employer plans.
The three-legged stool of retirement--Social Security, pensions, and personal savings – that once provided retirement security to American workers is broken. The majority of working people have no pension and little to no savings, causing many retirees to rely almost entirely on Social Security, which by itself isn’t enough to keep them out of poverty.
SEIU is committed to working together to deliver retirement security to all workers as part of a broader agenda to fight for social and economic justice for the 99%. Our work includes advocating for a stronger Social Security System, sustainable pensions and new private sector retirement models that will help deliver retirement security to more workers.
Fact Check: Learn the Truth About Retirement Security
Fact 1: Today, more than 70 million American workers do not have any type of employer-sponsored retirement plan.