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Conference topics included:
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.
Conference topics included:
• Key characteristics of two leading public sector pension
• The extent to which current fiscal challenges faced by such plans are structural
• Methods of redesigning or reconfiguring these plans to better serve the interests of both state and local government and public sector workers,
• The nature, process, and outcomes of public debate over recent efforts to change plans in several different states
• And, the relevance of legal and policy issues and public knowledge and perceptions to these and other matters central to such debate.
The Table of Contents of the meeting Resource Book (with web-links to most of the documents in it) and some of the presentation materials are available below.
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.
Pension fund investments in other assets, particularly in non-publicly traded corporations, have been rising and there is already a history of such investments and real estate being aimed at achieving collateral goals in ways consistent with meeting trustees' fiduciary responsibility. The last session canvassed the history of such efforts, considered frameworks and methodologies for successfully pursuing them now, and offered an opportunity for critical evaluation of goals to be pursued. Conference speakers, in their remarks, offered broad perspectives on many of the issues discussed during the sessions. The conference resource book includes materials specially prepared by discussants for their sessions. Electronic copies of the book's table of contents (with web-links to many of the documents) and Professor Lucian Bebchuk's Power Point presentation and the supporting research documents are available upon request from Larry W. Beeferman , Director of the Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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