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The Labor Guide to Retirement Plans: For Union Organizers and Employees


Researching retirement plans should not take the rest of your life, even if deciphering the relevant paperwork seems to have become a full-time job. Deliberately elaborate legalese is obscuring the efforts of financial elites to seize control of workers’ collective retirement savings—and The Labor Guide to Retirement Plans is here to translate.

In theory our national pension system, Social Security, should function well as a form of social insurance delivering partial retirement security, while workplace 401(k)s provide the rest. The problem is that very few do. Indeed, most workers have weak workplace retirement plans if they have them at all—and about half do not. Neoliberal retirement reforms have made matters worse, accelerating financial elites’ efforts to replace workers’ guaranteed pension plans with weak 401(k)-like savings accounts and stock market investment schemes and ultimately enabling financial elites to seize control of workers’ collective retirement savings. The result is arguably the largest source of labor value expropriation over the last four decades.

In light of all this, what do workers need to know as they assess their future prospects—especially in terms of the security their retirement plans may or may not bring? What should union activists keep in mind as they push for the national and workplace reforms needed to produce greater retirement security? This nuts-and-bolts book provides a much-needed demystification of the retirement system. Even more than that The Labor Guide to Retirement Plans enables us to take charge of our own personal futures, as a first step towards taking back what belongs to us all.

Every union leader needs to read The Labor Guide to Retirement Plans. In addition to demystifying the US retirement system – including Social Security, pensions, and 401(k)s — author James W. Russell offers valuable practical guidance related to pension and retirement benefit bargaining for workers and labor leaders.

Nari Rhee, Director of the Retirement Security Program, University of California, Berkeley Labor Center

James W. Russell starts with a simple maxim to this wonderfully useful book: the measure of any retirement plan should be how good it is for working people, not how profitable it is for the financial services industry. Keeping true to that maxim, he brings great knowledge and a gift for clear writing to explaining what needs to be known about Social Security, pension plans and 401(k)s to navigate our retirement futures.”

Karen W. Ferguson, President, Pension Rights Center

“A critical resource for labor activists, who are defending retirement security both at the bargaining table and in the legislative/political arena.”

Steve Early, former International Union Representative, Communications Workers of America, and author of Save Our Unions

James Russell is an authority on retirement policy in the United States, Europe, and Latin America, He led one of the first employee movements to successfully challenge the dominant trend and replace a 401(k)-like plan with a more secure traditional pension plan. He has taught at universities in the United States and as a Fulbright professor in Mexico and the Czech Republic. He is the author of eight previous books.

For excerpts and a discussion of the book, head here

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SKU: mrp9333 Categories: , , Tag:

Publication Date: November 2021

Number of Pages: 256

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-58367-933-3

Cloth ISBN: 978-1-58367-934-0

eBook ISBN: 978-1-58367-935-7