AFL-CIO Pressures Funds Over Privatization Scheme
March 14, 2005
The national office of the AFL-CIO has persuaded Waddell & Reed to join Edward Jones in withdrawing from a lobby group that supports President Bush's proposal to reform Social Security through private accounts, and now the organized labor giant has set its sights on Charles Schwab.
Waddell & Reed officials told the AFL-CIO in a letter that the firm chose not to renew its membership in the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security based on its "history of listening to its clients and being sympathetic and supportive of their issues."
"Please accept our withdrawal as such proof," said Waddell & Reed EVP and Chief Administrative Officer John Sundeen, Jr.
The Waddell & Reed activity comes on the heels of a similar move by Edward Jones, which last month pulled out of the alliance after having broadcast a 33-minute video outlining the plan for Social Security reform to its six million clients across the country. In the video, the brokerage firm stops short of publicly endorsing a specific solution.
The AFL-CIO is targeting money managers and brokers because Bush's No. 1 solution to an impending Social Security shortfall is to send 4% of worker earnings into private accounts, most likely a mix of stock and bond funds. Opponents of the plan argue that it's too costly, too risky and that the only party to benefit would be Wall Street from the fees it would charge on thousands of accounts.
The AFL-CIO is also urging its 13 million members to e-mail their brokers urging them to withdraw from the alliance, and its next target is Charles Schwab.
In related news, The Progress for America Voter Fund, a conservative political advocacy group, has launched a $2 million television advertising campaign supporting the Bush privatization plan. The 60-second commercials will appear during national cable programming for the next three weeks. The fund was a major contributor to Bush's re-election campaign.
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