Resources

Organizations

Pension Rights Center. Advocacy center for pension members. Site has good information.

Center for Retirement Research, Boston College. Excellent research center with on line access to its reports.

Connecticut Committee for Equity in Retirement Rank and file union advocacy organization that initiated the campaign that won Connecticut state employees the right to transfer from their failing defined contribution 401(k) like plan to the state’s traditional pension plan.

Retirement USA. Advocacy organization formed in 2009 in response to the retirement crisis, includes former Connecticut Congressperson Barbara Kennelly

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

National Institute on Retirement Security. Excellent online resources

Progressive States Network. Policy organization that focuses on state issues.

Centro de Estudios Nacionales de Desarrollo Alternativo (Chile). Research institute that is leading the campaign against Chile’s privatized national retirement system imposed by the 1973-90 military dictatorship.

Videos & Radio Programs

The Retirement Crisis in the United States.” Interview with James W. Russell on KPFA-FM (Berkeley), November 2, 2010.

“No Crisis in Public Retirement Systems: Debunking the Hype and Attacks.” On February 26, 2010, the Progressive States Network sponsored a “webinar” titled “No Crisis in Public Retirement Systems: Debunking the Hype and Attacks.” Its purpose was to counter a national campaign that aims to end defined-benefit public pensions for new state employees and replace them with ARP-like 401(k)s. To listen to a recording (a little over an hour) of the webinar, click here.

The Great Retirement Rip-off (TalkNation, syndicated through Pacifica Radio Network, with Dori Smith)—60 minutes. Radio interview with James W. Russell.

Sixty Minutes (CBS) segment on the 401(k) crisis—15 minutes. If you are in a hurry and only have time for a quick background on the issues, see this excellent report. Especially good in documenting how the administrators of 401(k)s charge exorbitant hidden commissions and administration fees that drain off substantial funds.

Interview with Teresa Ghilarducci (Democracy Now with Amy Goodman)—15 minutes. Teresa Ghilarducci is a leading expert on retirement and critic of the 401(k) approach.

Can You Afford to Retire? (PBS—Frontline)—60 minutes. Originally broadcast in 2006, this prophetic program offers a comprehensive report on why the 401(k) approach to retirement has failed.

Articles & Reports

A Better Bang for the Buck: The Economic Efficiencies of Defined Benefit PensionPlans.  Research study from the National Institute on Retirement Security. Essential reading for understanding why defined-benefit plans, such as SERS, are less expensive for employers than defined-contribution plans, such as ARP—an explanation that refutes the widely held view to the contrary. Worries about retirement security abound. Families fear that they won’t have enough to support an adequate retirement income as home values and financial markets plummet. Dwindling profit margins have employers looking to cut costs. And governments are concerned about delivering on the promises that they have made to their citizens and to their employees as tax revenues shrink amid a weakening economy. In this environment, some have proposed replacing traditional defined benefit (DB) pensions with 401(k)-type defined contribution (DC) retirement savings plans in an effort to save money.

“But decision-makers would be wise to look before they leap. To deliver the same level of retirement benefits, a DB plan can do the job at almost half the cost of a DC plan. Hence, DB plans should remain an integral part of retirement income security in an increasingly uncertain world because they offer employers and employees the best bang for the buck.” To read the entire 19 page report, click here

Retirement Security: A Lesson from West Virginia,” The Public Employee Advocate (American Federation of Teachers), December 2009/January 2010. Report on the experience of West Virginia, which allowed members of its 401(k) type defined contribution retirement plan to change into its defined benefit pension plan.

Gandel, Stephen, “Why It’s Time to Retire the 401(k), Time, October 7, 2009. Good revelation of the failure of 401(k)s to match traditional pensions for retirement income security. Discusses several possible solutions.

Catherine Rampell and Matthew Saltmarsh, “A Reluctance to Retire Means Fewer Openings” (New York Times, September 2, 2009). Useful comparison of 401(k) retirement crisis in the U.S. with lack of crisis in Europe because of continuance of traditional pensions there.

James Ridgeway, “Who Shredded Our Safety Net?” (Mother Jones, May/June 2009). Good investigative reporting that includes the author’s experiences with his own 401(k) account being insufficient to allow him to retire at all despite being over 70.

“Your Retirement: No 401(k) Do Over for You” (Money, October 17, 2008 by Janice Revell). Report on West Virginia teachers being allowed to switch back into the state’s defined benefit pension after their 401(k) type retirement program failed to provide adequate income for retirement.

“The State of Connecticut Alternate Retirement Program: Crisis for Retirees and a Reform Proposal.” Address by James W. Russell to first meeting sponsored by the Committee for Equity in Retirement at Eastern Connecticut State University, December 2, 2008. Explains differences between the State of Connecticut retirement programs and why the Alternate Retirement Program (ARP) is in a crisis for retirees. Includes extensive documentation and a glossary.

Robert Reich, “The Truth Behind the Social Security and Medicare Alarm Bells.” Reich, former Secretary of Labor during the Clinton Administration and trustee of the Social Security System, exposes the myth that Social Security is in crisis.

Books

Robin Blackburn, Banking on Death: Or, Investing in Life–The History and Future of Pensions (Verso, 2002).

Teresa Ghilarducci, When I’m Sixty-four: The Plot agains Pensions and the Plan to Save Them (Princeton University Press, 2008).

Alicia H. Munnell and Annika Sundén, Coming Up Short: The Challenge of 401(k) Plans (Brookings Institution Press, 2004).

James W. Russell, Social Insecurity: 401(k)s and the Retirement Crisis (Beacon Press, 2014).

Ellen E. Schultz, Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers (Penguin Portfolio, 2011).

William Wolman and Anne Colamosca, The Great 401(k) Hoax (Basic Books, 2002).

 

Websites

Retiredunionworkers.com contains a wealth of information and links.

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