Bishop Larry Roberts Sr. on Why Protecting Our Pensions Should be a High Priority

Aldermen from across our city recently signed a resolution asking Chicago pension funds to divest its holdings from fossil fuel companies. As a leader in my community, not only do I believe this is a mistake, but I fear for the repercussions this would have on the many present and future retirees that depend on these portfolios to fund their livelihoods later in life.

Chicago has long suffered from pension dilemmas that are both crippling and disheartening to the soul of the city. The funds have been through overhaul-attempt after overhaul-attempt with no success in better serving the workers and retirees that benefit from the funds. Regardless of ineffective attempts to address Chicago’s pension system, pressure has mounted on the city to solve the issue before it shortchanges its beneficiaries. Poor decisions are adding hundreds of millions of dollars to annual bills and have left the Chicago pension fund with one of the worse credit ratings in the country.

This is why I decided to take action and join this coalition of pension holders, community leaders, and concerned citizens. We’re working to address the issues that plague our pension funds across the country, with the prime example being Chicago.

The flaws of divestment bring me to this conclusion: our city, local, and state governments should not be politicizing pension funds and risk depleting our retirement savings. We have an obligation as a community to see that our retirees and elderly are taken care of. If we choose to start making decisions based on people’s personal opinions instead of what is better for our community, we’re starting down a slippery slope.

There are also the financial arguments as to why divestment action should be taken – including the startling fact that pension funds almost always under perform when divestiture is taken on by a portfolio. But to me, this issue is more about the serving our retirees in the best way possible and make sure they have the best care after spending many years serving our city.

Whether it’s being a police officer, a firefighter, a union worker, a teacher, or civil servant, pension funds should be working to serve them; they should not be gambled on. That is why I have joined Protect Our Pensions, in hopes of working towards better pensions for everyone.

Bishop Larry Roberts Sr.
Trinity All Nations Ministry

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