Last week, the Building Movement Project signed on as a supporter of Retirement USA, a national initiative that is working for a new retirement system that, along with Social Security, will provide universal, secure, and adequate income for future retirees. Convened by five organizations – the AFL-CIO, the Economic Policy Institute, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the Pension Rights Center, and the Service Employees International Union – the initiative has developed 12 Principles for a New Retirement System which provide a framework for a future system in which employers, workers, and the government would share responsibility for the retirement security for all American workers.
Our interest in supporting this project grew out of our work on generational changes in leadership, as well as the Commons. Generations-wise, we’re interested in linking the concerns of Baby Boom-age leaders with the well-being and security of Gen X and Millenial leaders as well. When it comes to the Commons, we’d like to share the principles below as an example of a commons-based approach to retirement, and encourage you to find out more and support the initiative.
Principles for a New Retirement System
Universal Coverage. Every worker should be covered by a retirement plan. A new retirement system that supplements Social Security should include all workers unless they are in plans that provide equally secure and adequate benefits.
Secure Retirement. Retirement shouldn’t be a gamble. Workers should be able to count on a steady lifetime stream of retirement income to supplement Social Security.
Adequate Income. Everyone should be able to have an adequate retirement income after a lifetime of work. The average worker should have sufficient income, together with Social Security, to maintain a reasonable standard of living in retirement.
Shared Responsibility. Retirement should be the shared responsibility of employers, employees and the government.
Required Contributions. Employers and employees should be required to contribute a specified percentage of pay, and the government should subsidize the contributions of lower-income workers.
Pooled Assets. Contributions to the system should be pooled and professionally managed to minimize costs and financial risks.
Payouts Only at Retirement. No withdrawals or loans should be permitted before retirement, except for permanent disability.
Lifetime Payouts. Benefits should be paid out over the lifetime of retirees and any surviving spouses, domestic partners, and former spouses.
Portable Benefits. Benefits should be portable when workers change jobs.
Voluntary Savings. Additional voluntary contributions should be permitted, with reasonable limits for tax-favored contributions.
Efficient and Transparent Administration. The system should be administered by a governmental agency or by private, non-profit institutions that are efficient, transparent, and governed by boards of trustees that include employer, employee, and retiree representatives.
Effective Oversight. Oversight of the new system should be by a single government regulator dedicated solely to promoting retirement security.