AFSCME urges city, county pensions to divest from Iran

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees-Council 31, the state's largest public employee union, has joined the growing chorus of voices calling for the City of Chicago and the Cook County to divest their assets in companies doing business in Iran's energy sector.

The union submitted a letter to the trustees urging that they implement the unanimous divestment resolution adopted earlier this spring by the Cook County Board of Commissioners and Chicago City Council.

Many of the union's 100,000 members are also members of the City or County pension funds, and the financial health of their retirement plans was at the heart of AFSCME-Council 31 Executive Director Henry Bayer's letter to the funds' trustees. "It is the financial and ethical obligation of the trustees to protect the pension funds from investments in an increasingly volatile sector...It is because of, not in spite of, the fiduciary responsibility to pension fund members that I support divestment," wrote Bayer.

JUF's JCRC expresses its appreciation to one of its constituent organization -- the Chicago chapter of the Jewish Labor Committee -- for its assistance in securing this letter of support.

The Cook County Pension Fund's Trustees met earlier this month and, in a rare split vote (5-4), decided to continue doing their due diligence on the process. Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, author and chief-sponsor of the County's divestment resolution, and Jewish Federation staff will continue advocating for full divestment.  This issue will be on the agenda at the Municipal Employees' Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago's Board of Trustees meeting on June 21st, where Alderman Michele Smith, author and chief-sponsor of the City's divestment resolution, will address the Trustees. Federation government affairs staff will be present at this meeting, and report back all developments. 

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