there are other pots of money in America — most prominently, our pension funds. And one group of pension funds has already begun to pony up the bucks to rebuild the nation: those controlled by America’s unions.
This year has borne witness to an array of job-creating, union investments in infrastructure from St. Louis to San Francisco and everywhere in between. Yesterday, these kinds of investments, got some shine from The Washington Post:
The retirement set-asides for unionized public employees and construction workers go into funds that their unions and their employers jointly control. In June, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka announced that the federation’s unions’ funds would invest $10 billion over the next five years in infrastructure projects. Since then, the federation’s construction-worker division has put $200 million of pension money into to retrofitting buildings, while the retirement funds of California teachers and other public employees have committed between $1.1 billion and $1.4 billion to infrastructure projects in the state. (Bound by their fiduciary responsibility to the retirees, the funds’ trustees must be confident that the projects will generate revenues, through tolls, fees, and the economic growth that such projects engender.)
“At a time when banks have frozen investment and municipalities have frozen borrowing, we’ve decided to step forward,” says Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. In January, Weingarten began meeting with the leaders of other major public employee unions, including some — the Service Employees International Union, the National Education Association — that aren’t AFL-CIO members. They decided to commit a share of their retirement funds to projects that shored up the nation’s infrastructure. The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) assisted them, setting up meetings between the union leaders and supportive state treasurers.