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We Are the American Labor Movement, and We Will Not Be Denied

Sun, 22 Oct 2017 16:54:51 +0000

We Are the American Labor Movement, and We Will Not Be Denied

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
Kaveh Sardari, AFL-CIO
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka honored at the St. Louis Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) awards dinner before the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention.

Here are key excerpts from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka's opening remarks from the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention:

Brothers and sisters, St. Louis is a historical gateway to the American frontier, in many ways to the American Dream—many unionists trace their roots to St. Louis and the Show Me state.

It will be our entrance to a new vision of prosperity, not a cookie-cutter America dream of white picket fences but a dream shaped by each of us, a dream in which no one gets left behind.

We gather together as America and the world hunger for solidarity. We need it like we need air. We need it like we need each other. We need it like we need love. Yet fear, hatred, combined with a rigged economy and political system, stand in our way.

People are afraid we can’t get what we need, afraid that there isn’t enough or that it can’t be done. And as scared people sometimes do, some people hate those who seem needier than they are. This isn’t new. This is perhaps the central conflict that has dogged America for generations, divided or united. It’s a lesson we must learn again and again. 

You see, we stand together, as diverse as America in every way, and united by our shared brotherhood and sisterhood in our labor movement, which is built entirely on togetherness. We do it because it’s right. We do it because it works. We do it because our humanity, our belief in leaving no one behind, and our embrace of the idea that our diversity is what makes us strong, binds us. 

It’s no coincidence that America was founded on that same idea, unity works. Unionism is American. It is as Patriotic as the flag and the statue of liberty.

So are we. We are America. We are unionism. We represent 12.5 million women and men who have good jobs, who support their union, who need a labor movement, today, that can fight, win and grow, and be positioned to grow and thrive for years to come.

That’s our job at this convention, to represent our members while positioning our unions and our movement to grow, to give millions more the freedom to come together and bargain for good jobs and fairness.

At this convention in St. Louis, we will chart the path toward a thriving movement. 

You will notice an absence here. There are almost no politicians. That’s because this is a time for conversations with each other. Us. The people in this room.

We’re going to talk about political independence, voting rights and right to work. We’re going to talk about launching a renaissance to rebuild our infrastructure and revive manufacturing. We’re going to talk about diversity and inclusion. We’re going to talk about reforming our movement to ensure it remains a force no matter what changes arise in our economy—from robots to new business models. We’re going to talk about boosting the power of collective bargaining, growing our unions in the growth industries and connecting with new workers who want to embrace a day when every worker, every single worker in America, has the freedom to negotiate with his or her employer for a better life.

These are not easy conversations. Yet we will have them, and we’ll have them here.

There’s something radical about coming together, whether we’re here in this convention hall or out in the street on a picket line or at a march. I’ve felt it hundreds of times over my lifetime, and it never gets old.

I’m talking about how getting together can change you. You find yourself talking to people you never talked to before. You feel something, more unified, and more powerful, when you come into the same space with like-minded people who share your values and your passion and vision. How strong are our shared values?

Unity is a choice. As a labor movement, every day we make that choice. Sometimes we get it wrong, and it causes deep and lasting pain. Yet sometimes we get it right, and it’s so powerful. That’s what we want to focus on for the next four days. We want to make the right choice. We want unity.

I’ll tell you a quick story.

Not far from where we meet today, in southern Illinois to the east of us, a group of striking white coal miners, hungry and afraid, fired shots into a train of black replacement workers who had no idea the situation they had been brought into.

A handful of men, including the great United Mine Worker organizer and UMWA executive council member Richard L. Davis organized across racial lines in that environment. Davis did it. He was black, and he helped form the UMWA at our founding convention in 1890. In the face of fear, death and unspeakable sorrow, he gave us a model of solidarity that we need today. 

Our shared values brought those unionists together then, and our values can and will unite us again.

Our labor movement won’t merely respond to the attacks and survive, brothers and sisters. We will thrive.

Because we’re the ones who wake America up every single morning. We tuck her into bed at night. We build the cars, planes and infrastructure, lift the loads, drive the buses and ship the goods, pour the molds, connect our cities and the world. We teach, heal and make. We package, print and bake. From the East Coast to the West Coast, north, south and everywhere in between. We make America strong. We don’t duck and run. We don’t run and hide. We are the American labor movement, and we will not be denied!

Kenneth Quinnell Sun, 10/22/2017 - 12:54

Democracy is Not Just Nice, But Necessary

Sun, 22 Oct 2017 16:12:08 +0000

Democracy is Not Just Nice, But Necessary

Global Labor Symposium

At the AFL-CIO Convention’s Global Labor Symposium, the last panel proved to be the most exciting of the day. The topic was Unions at the Forefront of Democracy. After an inspiring introduction by Victor Baez, who leads the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas, the entire symposium went outside to join a rally led by Missouri State Representative Bruce Franks, Jr. to support Black Lives Matter.

After the rally, Rep. Franks addressed the gathering, making clear that the struggle for justice, dignity and respect is universal. The audience engagement grew as they heard about worker repression and denials of free speech in Brazil, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, and Iraq. Working people who have been at the forefront of challenging authoritarian and repressive regimes have told stories of workers who risked job loss, arrests, and violence to protect and defend the rights of all citizens to stand up and fight back!

We don’t have all the answers yet. We are living in a time of widespread anti-unionism by global businesses. But working people are linking arms to share practices about effectively fighting back.

The bottom line was that workers can’t achieve gains by negotiating with employers of we can’t also speak out in protest, join the meetings, events and organizations of our choosing, and have the freedom to express our ideas on paper and online. In other words, unions aren’t just workplace organizations, we are essential to defending democratic values.

Kenneth Quinnell Sun, 10/22/2017 - 12:12

USA Hosts Community Fishing Day, Dedicates Willmore Park Piers

Sat, 21 Oct 2017 23:25:38 +0000

USA Hosts Community Fishing Day, Dedicates Willmore Park Piers

Youth, veterans and seniors received hands-on fishing instruction and assistance provided by USA volunteers at Willmore Park.
Union Sportsmen Alliance
Youth, veterans and seniors received hands-on fishing instruction and assistance provided by USA volunteers at Willmore Park.

Youth, veterans and seniors got to wet their lines at a fishing event at Willmore Park in St. Louis, Missouri, today, to celebrate the completion of two fishing piers restored by union volunteers.


The event was hosted by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) in conjunction with the AFL-CIO 28th Constitutional Convention.

The USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program brought together union volunteers from Missouri AFL-CIO, St. Louis Labor Council, St. Louis Building and Construction Trades, St. Louis Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council, EMLDC Laborers AGC Training Center, Iron Workers Local 396 and Painters and Allied Trades DC 58 to rebuild one fishing pier and install and paint a railing on another at Willmore Park to make them safe for visitors. The project was sponsored by PNC Capital Advisors and Aetna.

“St. Louis has a strong urban fishing heritage, and parks are an important part of our city’s culture,” said Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis. “The project at Willmore Park united volunteers from many union trades for the common purpose of improving our community and public fishing access for all to enjoy for generations to come.”

A group of nearly 150 gathered to celebrate the new pier with speeches and a commemorative plaque before enjoying a free lunch. Immediately after lunch, a group of youth, veterans and seniors received hands-on fishing instruction and assistance provided by USA volunteers. All participants received a free fishing rod, reel and tackle courtesy of Pure Fishing.

“America’s urban parks are a true treasure providing large populations living within city limits access to the great outdoors. However, many of these parks have infrastructure that is deteriorating, and city budgets that simply can’t provide the necessary maintenance,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “The USA has the most powerful tool available to help preserve our urban parks and outdoor heritage—skilled union members willing to give their time, expertise and passion to the cause. The Willmore Park project and community fishing day is true testament to our union volunteers, the power of Labor and their strong desire to give back more to their community than they receive.”

In addition to the companies and unions that helped restore the fishing piers, the following organizations helped make the fishing event possible: Vandaventer Place Retirement Center, Lively Stone Church of St. Louis, Missouri Veteran’s Home of St. Louis, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 58, Communications Workers of America Local 6300 and national and local AFL-CIO members.


Jackie Tortora Sat, 10/21/2017 - 19:25

In Missouri, Together We Win

Sat, 21 Oct 2017 19:14:02 +0000

In Missouri, Together We Win

Mike Louis

We would like to welcome the AFL-CIO Convention to our beautiful city. A city built by the hands of the labor movement. The world-famous Gateway Arch was built with 100% union labor in the early 1960s. Busch Stadium, the home of the 11-time world champion St. Louis Cardinals, was built by union men and women. The convention center, where we bring union members from every corner of the United States, was built by our brothers and sisters. St. Louis was not only built by union hands, but was once the shoe capital of the world, with union-made shoes made at Brown Shoe Co. Our city also was home to McDonnell Douglas, where machinists sent men to space. Not to mention the birthplace of the Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Bricklayers (BAC). St. Louis is a union town, which makes it the perfect place to host this year’s AFL-CIO Convention.

As you may know, Missouri has had its fair share of struggles, ranging from social unrest to the passage of union-busting laws. From previous unrest to the current situation, the labor movement has remained focused on building a stronger, more unified community. The labor movement will not stop fighting for equality for every single family. That is what the labor movement has always been about, and we are not about to stop now. Instead of fighting for working families, by passing policies that build a stronger community, politicians are working against us.

This past legislative session, Missouri politicians signed the “right to work” bill into law. However, this assault on ordinary working Missourians has not deterred us. Instead, Missourians have banded together to fight back. Over the course of several months, in the severe cold to the sweltering heat, working people collected signatures to put right to work on the ballot. By law, we needed 100,126 signatures in six of our eight congressional districts. But the working people of Missouri exceeded all expectations and turned in 310,567 signatures and qualified in all eight congressional districts. Right to work will be on the ballot in November 2018. It is going to be a fight for our very livelihood. With your help, we will defeat this disastrous anti-worker law that hurts all Missourians.

The Missouri AFL-CIO has never backed down. We are under attack by politicians and their billionaire buddies. Whether it be project labor agreements, paycheck deception, prevailing wage, lowering the minimum wage, right to work or the long list of anti-worker laws—we are the last line of defense for the middle class. Every one of us has a duty to fight for the middle class, who built this country. We are the leaders who will shape the future for our children and grandchildren. It is time to unite. Together we win.

Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 10/21/2017 - 15:14

Running for Office: Have You Ever Thought About It?

Sat, 21 Oct 2017 19:01:10 +0000

Running for Office: Have You Ever Thought About It?

Teresa Mosqueda
Teresa Mosqueda

I have spent the better part of the past decade asking elected leaders to vote the right way. Asking them to stand with us—as union workers, retirees, women, people of color and immigrants. I have done this by being in the streets, at rallies and protests, asking them to join us on the strike lines, and lobbying them in congressional offices, in our state legislature and in city halls.

Too often, I’d hear, “Let me think about it.”

After nearly a decade of hearing those words, I was determined to get more of us who have the lived experience of workers, women, people of color and immigrants into office. Working with the AFL-CIO, I ran the Path to Power program in Washington state that has helped train nearly 100 people to run for office. Half this year’s class is now on the ballot, and most candidates are slated to win. That’s what building power looks like. That’s what it looks like to make sure our voice is heard.

While training others to run, I would constantly hear: “Why aren’t you running? Have you ever thought about it?” I had always said no. Whether being encouraged by my own parents early on, or from our state’s speaker of the House over the years, I had always said no.

This year felt different. Donald Trump’s triumph last November brought everything into focus: everyone we have been working to protect and lift up is at risk: workers, women, people of color, immigrants, unions, the LGBTQIA community, our elders and kiddos.


We have all been pushed out of our comfort zone, to both resist and persist for our community. We’ve done this by being in the streets almost every weekend since the election, marching for women, workers and human rights. We’ve done this by being in airports demonstrating against the Muslim travel ban. And we’ve have done this by running for office, given the record numbers of women and people of color now on the ballot.

Local government now must be the first line of offence and the last line of defense when it comes to protect workers and residents. This year, I said yes.

I am running for Seattle City Council to represent our city at large. I am a third-generation Mexican American, Chicana, woman, renter, fierce advocate for health care and leader in the labor movement. Now, instead of asking someone else to vote the right way, I am hoping to bring my lived experience and progressive values into the office.

At 37 years old, I am a proud Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Local 8 member. As the political director of the Washington State Labor Council, I proudly advocate on behalf of the half a million affiliated working people in our state. I have spent my whole life organizing to improve the health, well-being, economic justice and opportunity for vulnerable communities and working families. I have walked the halls of power fighting for health care for all children, reproductive health services, equal pay for women, and helped successfully lead and pass the minimum wage and paid sick days initiative for all Washington workers.

As union members, we know the importance of pushing for change from both the inside of the halls of power and from the outside with our bullhorns, our bodies and our community. It’s time for us—working people, union members, women, people of color, young people, LGBTQIA folks, immigrants—to say yes.  

I think you should run for office. Why not you? Who better to stand up and fight for workplace protections and living wage jobs than you? Who better to represent working people than someone from the labor movement? Who better to talk about the importance of a union, worker safety and retirement security?

To our sisters in the labor movement, as women it takes us on average seven times to be asked to run for office before we even think about the possibility. Have you ever thought about it?

We are at a critical time in our country’s history. A fresh wave of leaders is rising and running for office. I am one of them. Our place as union members is among them. So to all workers across our movement, let me ask you just one more time (and hope this is the seventh time some of you have been asked), have you ever thought about running for office?

Join me. I think you should run. Let’s bring our progressive values into the halls of power to stand up for our communities, the labor movement and working families.

Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 10/21/2017 - 15:01

Highlights from the AFL-CIO 2017 Diversity Pre-Conference and the Global Labor Symposium

Sat, 21 Oct 2017 17:59:02 +0000

Highlights from the AFL-CIO 2017 Diversity Pre-Conference and the Global Labor Symposium

Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. addresses the AFL-CIO Convention Diversity Pre-Conference
Kaveh Sardari, AFL-CIO
Missouri House Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. addresses the AFL-CIO Diversity and Inclusion Conference ahead of the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention.

As part of its quadrennial convention, AFL-CIO is bringing together working families and activists to discuss diversity and inclusion and a separate meeting to discuss global labor issues. Here are some key Tweets from the "All of Us or None of Us: Join, Fight and Win Together Pre-Conference" and "Global Labor Symposium."





@steelworkers Fred Redmond co-chair @AFLCIO Race Commission kicks off #AllofUsorNoneofUs #aflcio17 pic.twitter.com/R6QpQXT6Sf

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 21, 2017




@lizshuler says that we should be leveraging #EqualPay on #aflcio17 panel w/ @votolatino @sagaftra @jqjp1 — AFL-CIO Latino (@AFLCIOLatino) October 21, 2017




Fred Redmond stands with @NFLPA "There is a reason the First Amendment is first". @DeSmithNFLPA @CBTU72 @APRI_National #aflcio17 @AFLCIO pic.twitter.com/ES1lR3q90c

— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 21, 2017





Glenn Kelly, youngest Exec. Council member of Int'l Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers "we have to have a seat at the table to change" #AllofUsorNoneofUs — William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) October 21, 2017


Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 10/21/2017 - 13:59

Using Government Procurement to Bring Good Jobs Back to the U.S.

Sat, 21 Oct 2017 16:37:06 +0000

Using Government Procurement to Bring Good Jobs Back to the U.S.

Marc Norberg

Marc Norberg is the assistant to the general president of International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART). He gave these remarks at the AFL-CIO Convention in St. Louis today.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to share SMART's work on Jobs to Move America and to talk about how we have used public procurement—or government purchasing—to re-shore good American manufacturing jobs.

Jobs to Move America began as a national initiative to ensure that the billions of tax dollars spent on the purchase of buses and trains for our public transit systems results in the creation of family-sustaining, manufacturing jobs in the United States.

Historically, manufacturing has been a key pathway for Americans without a college education to enter into the middle class. Unfortunately, one of the last American railcar manufacturers—the Pullman Company—shuttered more than 35 years ago. Since that time, all of the major companies winning contracts to build trains for our public transit systems have been multi-national firms from around the world—German, French, Canadian, Japanese, Korean and, more recently, Chinese.

Jobs to Move America started back in 2010—at a time when the country was still struggling to recover from the Great Recession. Despite the fact that millions of Americans were unemployed, nearly all of the trains being purchased for our cities were being designed and engineered outside of the United States. Most of the high-value, high-skilled, highly paid manufacturing jobs for our trains also were being sent overseas. It was unthinkable. Billions of our tax dollars were bypassing U.S. workers.

For too long, the purchase of public goods in this country has been primarily driven by private, for-profit interest. Short-term cost savings and privatization are prioritized over long-term economic growth. Public agencies at the federal, state and local level largely have been reliant upon a race-to-the-bottom procurement framework, which has contributed to the dismantling of American manufacturing. Over the past several decades, we have lost millions of production jobs.

We needed a program for rebuilding our country’s middle class. We needed a global strategy that could leverage our taxpayer dollars to bring back American manufacturing, to get multi-national firms sending work overseas to bring more production state side and create more and better jobs for our communities.

We also needed a strategy to level the playing field for high road, union companies doing the right thing, that have a deep American footprint, and are investing in quality, family-sustaining jobs. 

Jobs to Move America developed the U.S. Employment Plan, which creates a competition upwards among companies vying for million- and billion-dollar transit projects in the United States. During the evaluation of bids submitted by companies in a competitive public procurement, manufacturers are scored based on the robustness of their U.S. jobs programs. Train builders can earn higher marks for committing to paying their workers family-sustaining wages, good benefits and for investments in things like union apprenticeship and jobs pipelines for low-income communities.

Over four years ago, Jobs to Move America partnered with the Chicago Federation of Labor to implement the U.S. Employment Plan policy on the city of Chicago’s $2 billion investment in new "El" train cars. I’m proud to share that as a result of this collaboration, in 2016, my union, SMART, along with the Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the Jobs to Move America coalition signed the first of its kind, landmark community benefits agreement with Chinese rail builder CRRC.

This past spring, we broke ground on CRRC’s new $100 million train factory in Chicago’s South Side. Railcar manufacturing is coming back to Chicago for the first time in more than 35 years, since the closing of the Pullman factory. CRRC’s factory is currently being built and constructed union. Workers on the assembly line will be wall-to-wall union. And people from the surrounding community will have priority hiring.

As CRRC looks to win new contracts in the U.S. and expands its domestic presence, it is key that we build off our local Chicago partnership to reach a national understanding. To ensure that the Chicago facility remains a permanent flagship and that all new CRRC investments and facilities are covered by the same high road standards that we achieved in Chicago—it is key that our union develop new strategies to reflect an increasingly globalized world.

We know that China is investing billions in the U.S. each year and likely will only be increasing their investment levels. We know that in an increasingly globalized economy, building cooperative relationships with a rising power like China is imperative to our union’s long-term success. We must reach mutual understanding and shared expectations.

Through SMART's work in Beijing with the IBEW, AFL-CIO, Jobs to Move America and All-China Federation of Trade Unions, we believe our Chicago partnership with CRRC can be a model for Sino-American relations.

At SMART, we understand that our union’s work can no longer be limited to a traditional organizing model or to a domestic strategy. We must adapt. We must be able to develop nimble and innovative, global strategies to address the new organizing context and grow the power of our great American labor movement.

Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 10/21/2017 - 12:37

Brazil Undermines Labor Laws and Puts Women Workers at Great Risk

Sat, 21 Oct 2017 14:52:47 +0000

Brazil Undermines Labor Laws and Puts Women Workers at Great Risk

Paloma dos Santos, president of the Union of the Cleaning Services Workers of Santos City and Region (Sindilimpeza-Sindicato dos trabalhadores em asseio e conservação da baixada santista) from Brazil, is at the AFL-CIO 2017 Convention this week and is part of the Brazil-Kenya women's delegation.

Brazil's comprehensive labor laws have long provided a strong institutional framework for unions to defend workers' rights. Changes pushed through Congress this July by Brazil's un-elected president and a Congress compromised by corruption charges have greatly undermined the labor laws and will drastically change the legal context in which Brazil's unions work.

By some accounts, this drastic overhauling of Brazilian labor law places the country on a path toward something more similar to the U.S. reality, weakening collective bargaining and unions' financial stability. While the comprehensive labor law was flawed, these changes cannot be called reforms.

They are expected to deeply affect women, people of color and many workers who were long excluded from these protections.

We are living moments of great loss, at work and in life.

In the case of Assaio e Conservação, women are the ones who are being hit the hardest because of outsourcing and the new labor reform, approved in the Brazilian National Congress, that takes countless workers' rights, a decision of total regression.

One of the consequences of changing these labor laws is that pregnant women will be working in unhealthy areas, which was previously against the law.

Another important issue that we work on daily is the issue of gender violence. Many of our women workers suffer violence at home and sometimes cannot return to work because they are hurt and embarrassed. Another situation we deal with is the issue of rape, which most of the time happens to women on their way to work.

We try to raise the awareness of these workers in the best possible way, through pamphlets and referrals to specific guidelines. The fight for women's rights, equality and parity at work is every day, every hour.

Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 10/21/2017 - 10:52

Tennessee SMART Members Donate Time for Veteran

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 19:26:27 +0000

Tennessee SMART Members Donate Time for Veteran

On Sept. 21, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 5 was notified that a local Chattanooga, Tennessee, veteran and his family had been left with an exposed metal roof by a shoddy local nonunion contractor.

Army veteran Kerry Hinton had paid this contractor to demo the existing asphalt shingled roof and replace it with sheet metal. During this process, the owner/operator of the nonunion firm was arrested and reportedly put in jail, leaving Kerry along with his wife and children with a mess on their hands.

Volunteers from SMART Sheet Metal Local 5, through the SMART ARMY,  along with assistance from Chase Plumbing and Mechanical went to work donating time and materials to help this family in need.

Special thanks to brothers Jacob Wheeler, George Painter, Jordan Burgin, Jason Andrews, John Kirk and Jeff Burgin who worked on the project.

This post originally appeared at SMART.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/18/2017 - 15:26

The State of Retirement Security in the United States

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 13:57:47 +0000

The State of Retirement Security in the United States


This week is National Retirement Security Week. Every year this week is used by the financial industry to promote retirement savings through their products and services. While we applaud the goal of promoting adequate retirement savings for all Americans, the reality is that many working families are not saving at all and are woefully unprepared for retirement. So this year, we are flipping the script and talking about National Retirement (In)Security Week.

The unfortunate truth is that many Americans are not saving enough for retirement (if they are saving at all) and will fall behind their standard of living in retirement. And they know it. According to polling released earlier this year, 88% agree that the nation faces a retirement savings crisis and 76% are concerned about their own ability to retire with security and dignity.

Much of the problem stems from lack of access to a retirement savings plan through an employer. At any given time, roughly half of working Americans do not have a retirement savings plan through their job. The overwhelming majority of people do not save for retirement if they do not have a plan through their employer. Most of the money in IRA plans are rollovers from 401(k) plans, not money contributed directly to the IRA plan. Among those who do contribute directly to an IRA, most of them also have access to a retirement savings plan through their employer.

Among workers who do have a retirement savings plan at work, there has been a significant shift over the past three decades from defined benefit pensions to defined contribution 401(k)-style plans. According to the Center for Retirement Research, in 1983, 62% of workers had a traditional pension and only 12% had a 401(k)-style plan. By 2016, only 17% were covered by a pension and 73% participated solely in a defined contribution plan. This is a remarkable shift and has a real impact on people’s retirement security.

The Economic Policy Institute has crunched the numbers on the retirement savings crisis. Among all working age (ages 32 to 61) families, the median retirement savings amount was $5,000 in 2013. Looking only at working age families with savings accounts (since nearly half have no savings), the median amount increases to $60,000. While this is significantly more, it is nowhere close to what the typical worker will need to finance a secure retirement.

Additionally, retirement savings is highly skewed. High income families are ten times as likely to have any retirement savings as low income families. Also, high income families own a greater share of retirement savings than they do of earned income. The top 20% of income earners receive 63% of all income in the United States, but they control 74% of all retirement savings.

Finally, for all income levels and demographic groups, retirement income from 401(k)s, IRAs and other defined contribution plans do NOT represent a significant share of income. For all people age 65 and older, only 8% receive income in retirement through a defined contribution plan and the median amount received is $5,400. Even for seniors in the top 20%, this source of income accounts for just 12% of retirement income (no group receives more than 12%).

The reality is that retirement prospects have worsened for many working families since the Great Recession. The percentage of working Americans participating in any type of retirement plan has declined from a peak of 60% in 2001 to 53% in 2013. For many, their retirement savings amounts are lower now than they were in 2007, just before the financial crisis. As we discuss the importance of retirement security this week, it is critical to have a clear sense of where most Americans are today and the challenges that they face.

This is a guest post from the National Public Pension Coalition.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 10/18/2017 - 09:57


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