Yet another high-profile report is arguing for mandatory Social Security for all workers. Issued by the Brookings Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank, the report is only the latest in a long series of academic efforts designed to undermine the retirement benefits of fire fighters. Funded in part by the Arnold Foundation, known for their hardline efforts to dismantle public sector pension plans, the report argues that mandatory social security is a sound policy objective and that it would provide better retirement security for workers.
While Brookings admits that mandatory coverage would undermine existing defined benefit plans, they insist that in the long run workers would be better off. The report also claims that mandatory coverage would act as a back stop to at-risk, underfunded pension plans. The IAFF has consistently and strongly opposed mandatory coverage. We believe that forcing all public employees into Social Security would undermine existing pension systems that provide superior benefits and reflect the unique circumstances of public safety work. The fact is that the vast majority of public sector pension plans are strong, and have rebounded to their pre-recession levels.
The report at least acknowledges the obvious, that fire fighters would have problems with mandatory coverage, but only goes so far as to admit these problems should be “taken into consideration” into any final policy proposal. Make no mistake, the Brookings Report is yet another example of the aggressive campaign by conservative allies to institute mandatory coverage, and serves as a stark reminder of the continued threats public sector pension plans face in both Washington, D.C. and state capitols around the country. As members and as an organization we must continue to remain diligent in our efforts to protect the pensions of public sector workers by opposing mandatory social security coverage.