Secure Choice Retirement program draws national focus

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Members show support through personal testimony

The Local 1000-backed retirement security for all efforts in California are drawing national attention as other states work to develop a plan to help avert a retirement crisis among private sector workers. Members of the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Investment Board, including Local 1000 President Yvonne R. Walker were briefed May 27 about how Maryland, Illinois and Connecticut have joined California and Oregon in adopting legislation to study setting up a private sector retirement savings plan.

“California is leading the way for the rest of the nation,” said Yvonne R. Walker, a member of California’s Secure Choice Retirement Board and Local 1000 president. “Other states are now looking to us for an example of how to build a system that works – a system that provides a real safety net for the millions of working people struggling to save for retirement.” Later this year, the Secure Choice board will conduct a feasibility study that will guide the launch of the program. The goal is to offer retirement savings options to more than six million Californians whose employers do not offer a plan.

Local 1000 members testify

The board heard testimony from two Local 1000 members whose family members were unable to set aside money for retirement and have no pension or 401(k) savings plans.

Sherri Bridgeforth testified how her grandmother, a home health care employee, worked until just before her death in her late 60s – when she became too ill to work. “She could never afford to retire,” Bridgeforth said. “I worry that others in my family will suffer the same fate because most jobs these days do not offer retirement plans.”

Charlene Leathers-Sibblis described her how her husband and her older brother have each found themselves nearing retirement age after a lifetime of work, with little or no savings.
“Two years ago my brother became seriously ill at a time when he had no medical insurance,” Leathers-Sibblis said. “It broke my heart to learn that whatever money he had set aside went to pay medical bills. He turns 62 in September. He has no retirement, no savings and a limited ability to work.

“We need to make it easy and safe for people to save money for retirement, a paycheck at a time throughout their working life.”