More than a dozen speakers from unions, government agencies, young workers and other groups shared strategies to address the continuing retirement security emergency in the United States at the Alliance for Retired Americans' Retirement Security Symposium: An Intergenerational Seminar. Attendees discussed pensions as well as other cornerstones of retirement security, including Social Security and Medicare. Several dozen attendees attended in person at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., and scores more participated virtually.
Alliance President Robert Roach Jr., convened the event and made opening and closing remarks. Alliance Executive Director Richard Fiesta gave a presentation on Social Security and Medicare.
“Strengthening and expanding Social Security and educating younger workers about the value of traditional pensions are essential for both policymakers and union organizers,” Roach said. “We are building an intergenerational movement that includes more young workers joining the fight to defend our pensions. It is a key part of the effort to improve the retirement security of all Americans.”
AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler gave the opening remarks in a special video about labor’s role in the passage of the American Rescue Plan, which included the Butch Lewis Act.
Rep. John Larson of Connecticut, chair of the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee, spoke about the need to protect and expand Social Security now.
“Social Security is the nation’s number one insurance program, the number one anti-poverty program for the elderly and children, and Republicans are talking about holding the debt ceiling hostage to make cuts at a time when the program needs to be enhanced,” he said. “It needs to be enhanced because people are getting below-poverty-level checks; there hasn’t been an increase in more than 50 years.”
You can watch Larson’s full remarks here. Other highlights included the following:
- Senior officials from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) spoke about the PBGC’s Pension Insurance programs, Special Financial Assistance Program for multiemployer plans under the American Rescue Plan and PBGC reports.
- Meghan Rozarie, senior associate with the Retirees Organization and Field Services Department of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), offered a presentation that detailed how the retirement crisis had affected her own family.
- Mike Walden, incorporator and former president of National United Committee to Protect Pensions (NUCPPTM), and Ken Stribling, current NUCPPTM president, represented pension warrior Rita Lewis.
- Ilana Boivie, senior economist for the Strategic Resources Department with the Machinists (IAM), presented “Trends in Retirement Bargaining: What Do (Young) Workers Want?”
- Sisto Campana, labor advocate with AFSCME, updated participants on the status of public pension plans.
Videos of the presentations and additional material are available here.