In her latest column appearing in the New York Times, AFT President Randi Weingarten discusses "the real retirement crisis": the fact that most Americans lack the essential elements of a secure retirement.
This real crisis, she points out, has gone shamefully unreported. Much more common are media reports asserting that public employee defined benefit plans—which provide retirees an average pension of $23,400 per year—are unaffordable. In reality, many of the same public officials who repeat these claims also have failed to make the required state or local contributions to these plans, which public employees pay into faithfully over a lifetime of work.
"The people who press for 'others' to convert defined benefit pensions to 401(k) plans never talk about the benefits retirees are likely to get under these new plans—because it's likely to be a lot less than retirees need to get by," Weingarten writes. "Defined benefit plans not only help keep retirees out of poverty, every $1 in pension benefits generates $2.37 in economic activity in communities. And they're a good deal for taxpayers, because employee contributions and investment earnings account for more than two-thirds of pension revenues."