On October 27-28th 2006, the Project convened a meeting on “Public Sector Pension Plans: Current Challenges and Future Directions.” Participants, presenters, and speakers included scholars and researchers, public pension fund trustees and officials, members of the investment community, union leaders, experts on public knowledge about and attitudes in relation to the issues, and others.
Attendees sought to enhance their understanding of the challenges that public sector pension plans face, including finance and operation and broader issues such as pressures on state and local finance, shifting demographics and workforce needs, and concerns of public sector workers about security in retirement. They also sought insights into how public knowledge and attitudes on these issues shape and are shaped by contests over the future of public sector pension plans. [More]
The Harvard Labor and Worklife Program's third annual "Capital Matters: Managing Labor's Capital" conference was held on April 27th though the 29th. Organized under the aegis of the Program's new Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project, this year's conference was somewhat larger than in the past, with a total of over 90 participants, presenters, and speakers, including an increased number of union trustees. In keeping with the Project's aim of enabling trustees to become more active and effective, the opening session focused directly on what should and can be done in that regard. More so than at previous conferences, recent challenges to the survival of defined benefit plans both in the private and public sector have become a subject of intense debate while similar heated arguments rage over Social Security. For these reasons several sessions were held to assess the current and future status of those plans and Social Security. There continues to be considerable and increasing pension fund activity arising as a result of ownership of shares in publicly traded corporations. One session focused on a critical assessment of the goals for such activity, for example, whether the aim is to influence corporate governance (and in what ways) or more broadly to affect corporate behavior (and, again, in what ways) and challenges to efforts to achieve agreed-upon goals. [More]