Welcome to the latest edition of This Week in Pensions! As we do most weeks, we have gathered the best stories about pensions and retirement security from the previous week. This is the news you need to know in the fight for a secure retirement.

Here are this week’s top stories:

  • Strange Bedfellows: Bail Activists Team Up with Anti-Government Pension Programs Advocates by Laura Perez: once again, John Arnold is up to no good. This time he’s pushing bail reform legislation in California that would uniquely benefit his foundation. Of course, this isn’t the first time he’s meddled in California politics. As one Californian said, “It’s the height of narcissism for a Texas billionaire who doesn’t have to worry about his retirement to come into California and try to meddle with the secure retirement of working-class people.”
  • My turn: The facts about teacher pensions by Jack Ehnes: the CEO of CalSTRS (the California State Teachers’ Retirement System) responds with some facts about pensions for teachers in California. Following the 2008 financial crisis, CalSTRS implemented a 32 year funding plan to reach full funding by 2046. The funding plan is working and all parties involved must maintain their commitment to reducing the unfunded liability in the plan.
  • Retirement income in the 21st century by Dean Baker: writing in Salon, Baker details the great success of Social Security following the program’s 83rd anniversary. However, Social Security was never meant to provide all the retirement income retirees need. As Baker explains, the decline of pensions has devastated retirement security in a way that Social Security cannot make up for: “However, middle-income workers will need income in addition to Social Security to maintain their living standards in retirement. Traditional defined benefit pensions did much to ensure these workers a decent retirement.”
  • Unions Help Middle Class Families Save For Their Future by Christian Weller: Professor Weller argues that the decline in union membership has coincided with a rise in wealth inequality. One component of this has been the decline in the number of families with defined benefit pensions. As Weller explains, “From 2010 to 2016, 52.8% of union households could expect benefits from a DB pension, while only 19.8% of non-union households could. Union membership translates into a real boost to retirement security because they are more likely to have both a DB pension and substantial savings.”
  • Our looming labor crisis: retirement security by Donald Norcross: U.S. Rep. Norcross writes about the retirement savings crisis facing the United States. Like Professor Weller, he makes the connection between the decline in union membership and the decline in retirement savings, especially when it relates to pensions. He also issues a dire warning: “In the next 15 years, ‘senior poverty’ could be the new normal.”

Be sure to check back next week for the latest news in the fight for a secure retirement!