Reports highlights retirement (in)security for workers of color

Press Release

Feb. 21, 2012

Contact: Khanh Weinberg (408) 921-0098

SAN JOSE – A new report from the University of California Berkeley’s Labor Center reveals  minority workers are more likely to live in poverty as retirees, prompting members of the SEIU Local 521 to urge community leaders to address the need for retirement security for all workers.

The report “Black and Latino Retirement (In)Security” finds that black and Latino seniors face even tougher times in retirement than American seniors as a whole.

The report’s main findings include:

  • Poverty rates are twice as high among blacks and Latino seniors compared to the U.S. population as a whole.
  • Less than half of black workers are covered by an employer sponsored retirement plan, a critical resource in ensuring adequate retirement income.

Among retirees age 60 and older, people of color are disproportionately likely to be low income.

“For me, our country’s looming retirement security crisis crosses racial and economic lines,” said George Burnette, a peace officer and probation counselor with Santa Clara County. “We need to figure out how to create retirement security for all Americans who have put in their fair share of work. Hard-working Americans of any race have a right to be able to retire with dignity.”

Prior to his decade-plus work for the county, Burnette served in the U.S. Army for 20 years.

As he looks toward his retirement years, Burnette recognizes he is one of the more fortunate ones. “I am speaking out for the 99 percent,” he said.

Ben Franklin, SEIU 521 Monterey County Chapter President, said: “Despite decades of gains, black and Latino families are still grappling with the challenges of having a secure retirement. But this is an issue for everyone, regardless of race. All workers should have retirement security after decades of hard work and sacrifice.”

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The Service Employees International Union is an organization of 2.1 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide.  SEIU is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society. For more information, visit

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