A very important piece by David Webber:
In the past decade, one of the few hopeful developments in an often bleak labor landscape has been the rise of a new form of activism built on the power of labor’s $3.5 trillion pensions. A new class of activists at the AFL-CIO Office of Investment, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, the North America’s Building Trades Union, the Service Employees International Union, UNITE HERE, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the New York state and New York City and Illinois and Chicago and Los Angeles pension funds—and smaller state, county and municipal pension funds across the country—have begun to mobilize these funds to advance the interests of the workers who contribute to them. Under their leadership, these pensions have invested to create union jobs for workers, who then strengthen the funds by contributing to them.
They have fought privatization of public sector jobs, pushed back on outrageous Wall Street fees, attacked obscene executive compensation, forced disclosure of the CEO-worker pay ratio, resisted hedge fund attacks on pensions and in some cases divested from them entirely, and sued companies like Enron, Worldcom, and now Wells Fargo for fraud. They have divested from gun companies, demanded companies account for their environmental impact, hammered companies over sexual harassment and assault, and attacked pharmaceutical companies that fueled the opioid crisis. For all these reasons, these funds have come under withering attack from the right—empowered by the recent Janus case—which is using a controversy about the funding status of public pensions to ram through crippling reforms to undermine them. The left’s response has been silence and concessions. The left’s pension paralysis can be traced to its entirely ideological and outdated discomfort with what these pensions really are: labor’s own source of capital.