521 members to CalPERS: Continue investing in California

CalPERS Meeting 03/12/2012

521 members (L-R) Bob Sigala, Rachel Grocha-Welch, Brian O’Neill, and Tina Garnica at the CalPERS Investment Committee meeting on March 12.

In a kick off of our 521 Pension subcommittee, members attended a CalPERS meeting in Sacramento March 12 and spoke in support of keeping CalPERS strong for future generations through its continued investment in California infrastructure.

CalPERS is the largest pension fund in the United States. Through its Infrastructure Investment Program, it invests in physical structures, networks, facilities, and other sectors. Last year they earmarked up to $800 million for investments in California infrastructure over the next three years.

Our 521 Pension Committee has formed a subcommittee that will focus on these CalPERS infrastructure investments. The goal is to work closely with CalPERS to invest in California, create jobs, and help rebuild our local economy.

On its debut action March 12, members addressed the CalPERS Investment Committee and a) urged them to continue to invest in California and b) supported CalPERS opposition to a bill that would restrict their investment strategies. The proposed bill SB 955 would mandate that CalPERS invest in out-of-state projects only after considering California projects.

“Infrastructure investments are important to California,” said Brian O’Neill, SEIU 521 Chair of Committee on Political Education (appointed by the SEIU 521 President). “Our main point was that we agree with CalPERS and staff that mandated infrastructure projects is not the right way to go. The legislature shouldn’t mandate investments. That should be left up to the professionals at CalPERS.”

521 Pension Committee leaders Bob Sigala, Rachel Grocha-Welch, and Tina Garnica also attended the meeting.

“I agree that the Infrastructure Investment Program is very important for long-term investments to have good returns, to create good jobs in California, and to help build the future infrastructure that our state needs for our economy to grow strong,” said Rachel Grocha-Welch, a forensic chemist for Valley Medical Center. “I ask that you to continue to work hard on your success in investing in California and its future.”

After hearing public comment, the CalPERS committee voted to oppose the bill.

On a separate topic, 521 member Bob Sigala spoke in support of out-of-state workers who were fired by Walmart. Workers were asking CalPERS’ support in stopping Walmart from its harsh treatment of workers at a site owned by CalPERS.

“I just want to say that my heart goes out to these workers,” said Bob Sigala. “As a plan participant, it’s really important to me that my pension fund is responsive to situations like this. I’m sure my fellow SEIU members and CalPERS members would feel the same way. I urge staff to figure out a way to make things better for them.”

CalPERS provides retirement, health, and related financial programs and benefits to more than 1.6 million public employees, retirees, and their families and more than 3,000 public employers.

What’s next?

Come to the next 521 Pension Committee meeting!
Thursday, March 22, 6-8 p.m.
Location: Salinas, Fresno, Bakersfield, Visalia and San Jose union offices via video conference
RSVP to Hoan.Pham@seiu521.org

521 Pension Blog
Keep up-to-date with pension news by following the 521 Pension blog.

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