Skip to main content
Resolutions & Amendments

40th International Convention - Los Angeles, CA (2012)


Resolution No. 6
40th International Convention
Los Angeles Convention Center
June 18 - 22, 2012
Los Angeles, CA

Public employee pensions are an irreplaceable source of security for public workers. Nationally, the average AFSCME member earns less than $45,000 per year and receives a pension of approximately $19,000 per year after a career of public service; and

While government employers have often failed to faithfully contribute to their employees’ plans, public workers have contributed year in and year out. In fact, taxpayers typically shoulder less than 25 percent of all pension funding; employee contributions and investment returns provide for the rest; and

Over 25 percent of public workers are not covered by Social Security. For these workers, their public pension benefit is often their only source of retirement income; and

Public pension benefits are not the cause of the fiscal distress afflicting many state and local governments. According to Census Bureau figures, pension expenditures account for just 3 percent of all state and local government spending; and

Pension funding suffered due to the equity and real estate market meltdown in 2008 and 2009. Wall Street excesses and greed caused these problems, not pension benefit levels. Indeed, public pensions were 85 percent funded (on aggregate) in 2007 before the meltdown took its toll on the economy; and

Pension plans are highly liquid. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that if no new money was deposited in pension plans, the plans (in aggregate) would not run out of funds to pay benefits until 2033. If sufficient funds are paid into plans to cover only the cost of new benefit accruals, without paying off any of the unfunded liabilities of plans, plans would have sufficient assets to pay benefits for next thirty years, through 2041; and

Reliable studies have demonstrated that traditional defined benefit pension plans provide the most security for employees, and the greatest value for employees and taxpayers alike. Defined benefit pension plans deliver benefits at just 54 percent of the cost of a defined contribution plan; and

AFSCME has been a leader in the fight to preserve and protect pensions from political attacks. The International Union and affiliates have aggressively defended the pension rights and benefits of public employees throughout the nation. Working in coalition with other unions, and through our membership in the National Public Pension Coalition, AFSCME has developed and implemented dozens of pension protection campaigns.

AFSCME shall continue its leadership in the defense of the defined benefit pension system and public and private sector employee pension benefits; and

That AFSCME members and retirees will mobilize to protect and preserve existing pension benefits from politically inspired attacks; and

That AFSCME and its affiliated unions will use every appropriate means to defend employee pensions including legal action, research and policy analysis, collective bargaining and political and legislative activity. AFSCME will continue to work in coalition with other groups who share our interest in a secure and stable retirement system for workers.

J. Michael Downey, President and Delegate
Claire Newell, Recording Secretary
AFSCME Council 94
Rhode Island