Alliance for Retired Americans Hosts Fourth Annual Retirement Security Symposium

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October 20, 2023

Alliance for Retired Americans Hosts Fourth Annual Retirement Security Symposium

Government officials, labor movement leaders, policy experts, Social Security and pension advocates, academics, attorneys, and economists gathered to discuss retirement security and social insurance issues with hundreds of virtual and in-person participants Tuesday at the Alliance’s symposium, Preparing for Retirement, Individual and Collective Efforts.

The focus of the day was actions individuals and policymakers should take to ensure a secure retirement for all. “Retirement security is under attack. In the corporate boardrooms around this country, they’re contemplating how to eliminate pension plans,” said Alliance President Robert Roach, Jr. “Individual effort leads to a concerted effort, which leads to success in combating those efforts.”

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler told the audience that Republicans in Congress continue to press for fiscal commissions seeking to cut Social Security, declaring, “We need to be clear, as we always have been, that Social Security is not the problem, it is a key solution to the retirement income crisis and it needs to be expanded. We need our young workers engaged in this fight, we need our retirees engaged in this fight, standing right next to each other, letting Americans all over the country know how this affects each of us, telling those stories, organizing.”

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer and Alliance Executive Vice President Fred Redmond thanked Alliance members for their important work in protecting and expanding retirement security through outreach to retirees and explained why every American is affected by retiree issues.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten discussed the importance of implementing policies like the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, and negotiating lower prescription drug prices to help all American families, not just retirees. She also stressed the need to engage with union members and retirees to combat disinformation.

Rep. John Larson (CT), Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee, spoke about the need to protect and expand Social Security now. “How is it that if you’re living longer, you should live on less? That’s not what (President) Roosevelt intended and that’s not what President Biden intends, and that’s why he’s been so upfront and outspoken about Social Security,” Rep. Larson stated.

Alliance Executive Director Richard Fiesta discussed ways to strengthen and expand Social Security; Gordon Hartogensis, Director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) spoke about the success of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP); and Kevin Muse, Supervisory Actuary with PBGC, spoke about the ARP’s Special Financial Assistance Program.

Anne Henderson, PBGC Senior Advisor; Norman Jackson, Deputy Director, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL’s), Philadelphia Regional Office; and Timothy Rowe, Senior Investigator, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington District Office, discussed the PBGC’s Missing Participants Program and DOL’s efforts to recover retirement funds beneficiaries did not know about or have lost track of.

Kenneth Stribling, President of the National United Committee to Protect Pensions (NUCPP) discussed the Butch Lewis Act legislation; Tyler Bond, Research Director for the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), gave a presentation describing the role of public pensions in reducing retirement inequality; Shaun O’Brien, AFSCME Policy Director, provided an update on public pensions; Ilana Boivie, Senior Economist with the Machinists Union (IAMAW), broke down both the pitfalls and the benefits of 401(k) plans; and Calvin MacDowell, Senior Associate with Retirees AFT, spoke about “Pre-Retirement Workshops: Recruiting the Next Wave of Retiree Activists.”

Video of the event and additional materials are available here.

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