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Wake Up, Washington! Securing Retirement

September 29, 2010

Americans should be able to enjoy a secure retirement after a lifetime of work.  AFSCME is participating in “Wake Up, Washington!” Month to encourage Americans across the country to tell lawmakers to keep their hands off Social Security and to fix the nation’s patchwork private retirement income system.

A recent study by the Insured Retirement Institute reported that baby boomers say they were “afraid” that even after a lifetime of work they could not afford to retire and expressed “concern about outliving their savings and investments.”  Soon-to-be retirees are right to be concerned – retirement savings have taken a huge hit with the crash of Wall Street, raising many questions about who will be able to retire and when.

That’s not right.  Americans who work for a lifetime should be covered by a retirement plan that isn’t a gamble.  Unfortunately, today a secure retirement is hard to find.

While many Americans in the last generation had pensions and thus guaranteed retirements, the number of workers who can count on pensions is rapidly dwindling.  Corporate CEOs are padding their own exorbitant compensation packages and hoarding funds while taking pensions away from their workers and forcing employees into risky do-it-yourself investment schemes.  Our nation’s 30-year experience with individual retirement accounts such as private 401(k)s has left retirees at the mercy of the stock market, as detailed in AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Lee A. Saunders’ article, “America's Failed 401(k) Experiment,” which is now on Huffington Post and Firedoglake.

Social Security has provided a foundation of income to millions of retirees since it was created 75 years ago.  But it was never intended to be the only source of income.  Unfortunately, far too many retirees today are living on Social Security and little else.

People who work hard for a lifetime should be able to count on a steady stream of retirement income – to supplement Social Security – that maintains a reasonable standard of living.  If you are concerned about your retirement future make your voice heard.  It’s time for employers, workers and the government to develop a system so that all Americans can enjoy their Golden Years.

Next: Could Simpson or Boehner Pass the Social Security Test?
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