US - America's largest pension fund, the US$182bn California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), has unanimously elected vice president Rob Feckner as its new president and successor to Sean Harrigan, who was ousted from the post in December last year.
The CalPERS Board of Administration also unanimously elected Robert Carlson, a senior member on the board, as vice president.
Feckner, a glazing specialist for the Napa Valley Unified School District, was first elected to the board in 1998 and re-elected in 2002. He has been board vice president and chairman of the board investment committee for the past two years.
“I am honoured that my colleagues have chosen me to lead this organisation during these challenging times,” Feckner said.
“I intend to tap into the vast range of leadership of my fellow board members and our dedicated staff to involve as many of them as possible in working on both the state and national fronts to ensure that we continue to maintain decent retirement benefits and adequate, affordable health care benefits for California’s hard-working public servants and their employers.”
Carlson has served on the CalPERS board since 1971. He was board president from 1976 to 1985 and vice president from 2000 to 2002.
“As a former public employee and now a retiree, I can relate first-hand to the concerns of our members,” Carlson said. “I intend to work closely with the president and my fellow board members to protect the financial and health security of our members.”
Meanwhile, the board voted 9-3 to oppose legislation that would prohibit any newly hired public sector employees from enrolling in a defined benefit public pension plan from July 1, 2007. Under the legislation, which calls for an amendment to the California Constitution, they would be put into a 401(k)-style plan.
“The abundance of evidence suggests this legislative proposal to move to a defined contribution plan is not well thought out,” said new president Rob Feckner.
Kurato Shimada, chair of the benefits programme and administration committee, said the fund recognised the plight of employers in meeting their financial obligations to fund pensions, but there was no need to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”.
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