AFT Wants TIAA-CREF to Promote ‘Fair Labor’

by E Wayne Ross on October 15, 2009

Inside Higher Ed: AFT Wants TIAA-CREF to Promote ‘Fair Labor’

The American Federation of Teachers Executive Council on Wednesday passed a resolution urging TIAA-CREF to take tougher stands in its investment decisions to promote “fair labor.” The resolution says that many companies in TIAA-CREF’s portfolio “routinely pay sub-poverty wages and suppress workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain.” While TIAA-CREF has a fund that factors in social concerns of investors, the AFT resolution said that this fund is too narrow in what it excludes, and that a more expansive definition of socially conscious investing is needed to “promote the values and to meet all the financial needs” of AFT members whose retirement funds are handled by TIAA-CREF. A statement from TIAA-CREF defended its portfolio decisions, and called the company “a leader in advocating for corporate social responsibility.” The “socially screened funds and accounts give special consideration to companies’ environmental, social and governance records, and assess, among other things, employee relations, union relations, health and safety, and retirement and work/life benefits,” the statement said. Further, it said that in 2008, TIAA-CREF voted on management and shareholder proposals at more than 7,000 portfolio company meetings and that “we supported resolutions asking companies to disclose how they are addressing human rights issues.”