Spreading Retirement Insecurity Around – A Victory for the Walmart 1%

The Walmart 1% scored a victory for retirement insecurity last Tuesday in San Diego.

Voters in that city approved a Walmart-backed ballot measure to eliminate defined benefit pensions for new city employees and to impose a five-year freeze on the portion of current workers’ salaries that applies to pension calculations. Under the measure, the current defined benefit pension will be replaced by a 401-K for new employees, leaving workers at the mercy of the markets after they retire.

Walmart contributed $45,000 directly to the committee backing Measure B and another $10,060 to the Lincoln Club of San Diego, a business association that helped write and promote the measure. Business and anti-tax groups together spent $1.1 million just to get it on the ballot.

Measure B’s backers say pension cuts are necessary to get the city’s fiscal house in order, but retired city worker Jim Baross explains here that their math doesn’t add up.

For some reason, the Walmart 1% seems intent on putting public worker pensions on the chopping block in California.

Greg Penner, a former Walmart Senior Vice President and current member of the Board of Directors, recently co-founded Govern for California (GFC) with retired multi-millionaire banker David Crane and billionaire high-tech investor Ron Conway. Govern for California is a political action committee which blames the state’s fiscal crisis largely on overly generous public worker pensions (more on GFC coming soon).

Keep in mind also that Penner is no ordinary Walmart guy. He is a member of the Walton family by virtue of his marriage to Carrie Walton and he plays a key role in managing the family’s investments.  So it is clear that both Walmart and highly-placed members of the Walmart 1% are backing efforts to transform public worker pensions in ways that undermine retirement security for the 99%.

Related news: A measure gutting public worker pensions was also approved in San Jose last Tuesday, with help from a $5,000 contribution by Govern for California President David Crane. Crane, age 59, is described in campaign finance documents as a “retiree.” We trust this friend of the Waltons is enjoying early retirement and not overly worried about his 401-K.

Written by Marc