Retirement Security for All Californians
Local 1000 member shares struggles as retirement board designs relief plan

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The Local 1000-supported goal of creating a retirement safety net for Californians with no workplace plan came nearer its goal on September 28 as the Secure Choice Retirement board considered detailed information about how that state-run plan should work. Local 1000 was there to make sure our members’ voices are heard as important decisions are made on this groundbreaking program.

Local 1000 helped pass the legislation that created the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program in 2012. The goal of the program is to cover the over six million Californians who lack access to employer-sponsored retirement plans by providing access to a voluntary, low-risk, low-cost, portable retirement savings plan that encourages participation through automatic enrollment and facilitates contributions through payroll deductions.

The union’s support of Secure Choice is a natural outgrowth of our commitment to ensuring retirement security, not just for our members, but for our family and community members whose financial well-being affects the entire state. Local 1000 President Yvonne R. Walker sits on the Secure Choice board, and members and staff are deeply involved in shepherding the program through to its goal.

To that end, member-activist Craig Nelson spoke at the recent event, sharing his and his family’s retirement experiences. His story included how, before he became a state worker, he was laid off from a job and forced to make early withdrawals from a retirement account. Nelson also recounted how his parent’s retirement has included incredibly high costs for long-term and health care expenses. Nelson’s story impressed upon the board that, to ensure that funds will remain at the end of a worker’s career, the final plan will need to be both financially robust and well-protected.

“In a perfect world, everyone would be able to save for retirement,” said Nelson. “But the economy we live in now is increasingly unstable for middle-class workers, and we never know when we may be laid off or have other financial emergencies.”

President Walker agrees, and stories such as Nelson’s are exactly why she will be with Secure Choice every step of the way, crafting the plan to be the most dependable, fiscally-sound way to bring retirement security to the millions of Californians destined to retire in poverty without it.

“Our Purpose Statement compels us to work for economic justice,” said Walker, “and until everyone can retire with security there will be no economic justice in California.”