Jun 17, 2014 | Press Release

CLC, SCEPA Convene #RetireNYC Conference to Address NYC Retirement Security Crisis

Comptroller Scott Stringer Announces Creation of Advisory Council to Examine Retirement Security Options

Visit to view the #RetireNYC video.​

New York, NY – The New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO today partnered with the New School’s Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis to convene a conference examining New York City’s retirement security crisis.  The event brought together representatives from the City, State, and National labor movements, as well as elected officials, and members of the business and academic communities, to address the need to find a way to supply retirement security for all New Yorkers.

Nationally, New York ranks fourth in the number of residents who do not have the income necessary to supplement Social Security payments.  In New York, the average annual Social Security payment is $15,528.

"As a society, we can no longer encourage workers to attain the 'American Dream,' only to strip it away from them when they become too old or too ill to work.  It sounds cruel, but that is exactly what is happening by allowing 59% of New Yorkers to go without a retirement plan," said Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO.  "Every worker deserves to retire with dignity after a lifetime of work. Today’s conference brought together stakeholders from all different sectors of our city and state, and I look forward to continuing to work together to identify a plan to ensure retirement security for all New Yorkers.”

"When half of the workforce has no retirement plan, it is more important than ever that we come up with innovative solutions to prevent future retirees from experiencing downward mobility in their ‘golden’ years,"  said Teresa Ghilarducci, whose op-ed “Our Ridiculous Approach to Retirement” was the New York Times’ most-emailed article for over a month. "New York City has a long history of being an incubator for national change. We have the opportunity to step up to this challenge and create a practical blueprint to stave off an impending retirement crisis.”

During the conference, New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer,  New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, and New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento provided insight into the retirement problem. Economist James Parrot presented an update on the City’s economic status, and panelists including PSC-CUNY President Barbara Bowen,National AFL-CIO Director of Policy Damon Silvers,  SEIU Capital Stewardship’s John Adler, and Black Rock Solutions’ Ann Marie Petach discussed possible solutions to the crisis.

"Too many New Yorkers aren't saving enough to have a secure retirement," said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. "Retirement insecurity is among the most important social and economic challenges we face today. It is critical that we do all that we can to help New Yorkers plan ahead for retirement. I applaud the New York City Central Labor Council and the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis for bringing together experts, community representatives and elected officials to discuss this pressing issue."

"America is facing a retirement security crisis and no generation is immune," said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who announced that starting in the Fall, his office will lead an advisory council to examine retirement security options.  "We are here today to forge comprehensive, common-sense solutions to a national problem with very local impacts in all of our towns, cities and states. We simply cannot afford to wait for people to reach retirement age only to find out that they don't have enough on which to live without public assistance.

"NYC is getting older and so is our workforce, rapidly. It's time for a frank discussion about retirement insecurity," said James Parrott, Chief Economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute.

“Whether you’re an executive at a Fortune 500 company or a line worker at a fast food restaurant, we all hope to be able to retire with dignity. But, for far too many New Yorkers who are working harder and harder just to make ends meet, retirement security is just a dream," said Mario Cilento, President of the New York State, AFL-CIO.  "We commend the New York City Central Labor Council for starting a real conversation today about retirement security, which is quite frankly at a crisis point.  The fact that 59% of New York City workers ages 25-69 lack access to retirement plan is a problem for all of us; it means more reliance government services, less money spent back in our local economies, and most of all it means our friends, family and neighbors struggling.”

“A secure and dignified retirement is a basic human right” said Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, the union representing 25,000 faculty and professional staff at the City University of New York. “ The labor movement could lead the way in calling for expanded retirement security and making it a universal right. Just as New York is rethinking the minimum wage, New York could begin to rethink pensions as a universal right.  The result could be a transformation that goes way beyond retirement."