Keiana Greene-Page, 202-679-6569

Issued February 15, 2017

SEIU: House votes to undermine retirement savings of working Americans

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Service Employees International Union International President Mary Kay Henry and SEIU Retirement Security Committee Chair and SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker spoke out Wednesday after members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to rollback Department of Labor guidelines for state-based retirement plans such as the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program.

Since California’s landmark legislation was passed in 2012, nearly half of all states and several major cities have explored legislation to create new retirement plans for private-sector workers who don’t have access to a plan at work. These bills have repeatedly been met with opposition from groups representing large financial institutions and insurance companies.

“Working families are fed up with working longer and harder, but never being able to get ahead. Over 50 million working Americans are on the road to retirement poverty simply because they do not have access to a retirement savings plan at work. Lawmakers should be making it easier for working families to save for retirement; not continue to rig the rules against low- and middle-income families,” said Henry. “Sadly, today’s House vote shows that self-interested politicians would rather side with Wall Street institutions than address the retirement security crisis that will put a strain on federal, state and local budgets in the years to come. In California for example, half of the 7.5 million workers who would benefit from the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program have annual incomes of $23,000 or less. Can you imagine what would happen if these families don’t have income to supplement their Social Security benefits?”

“Many of the financial institutions that have pushed for these resolutions have ignored the retirement needs of low-income families and small businesses that can’t afford their products. This is one of many reasons why state-based retirement plans like the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program have garnered support from working families and small business owners around the country. It’s also why working families, advocacy groups and responsible lawmakers have successfully fought for these plans,” said Walker. “These plans have given millions of working Americans hope in their ability to enjoy a simple, dignified retirement after a lifetime of hard work and playing by the rules. Members of the Senate must put ideology and corporate interests aside to help states continue to address the retirement savings crisis since the House has failed to do so.”