Mass Retirees Calls For Divestment from Russia

Mass Retirees Calls For Divestment from Russia

Supports Moves by Treasurer Goldberg & Legislature to Act

March 2, 2022: In the wake of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the Mass Retirees Association has joined those calling for full divestment of public pension funds from Russian companies or investments tied to Russia.  

The Association, which represents more than 52,000 retired Massachusetts public employees, supports the prompt action taken by State Treasurer Deb Goldberg and the Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board to identify Russia related investments. Mass Retirees Executive Vice President Paul Shanley serves as an elected member of the PRIM Board. 

While PRIM has no assets impacted by recently enacted sanctions, the system does have a limited exposure to Russia through some $140 million in pension investments – which comprise a very small fraction of the $108 billion fund.

Mass Retirees also applauds the bipartisan group of State Legislators, who have called for divestment of pension assets from Russia. This includes the 58 lawmakers who joined House Republican Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading) in a letter calling for divestment. However, neither the treasurer nor retirement officials have the legal authority to take unilateral action without legislative approval.

This has led to State Senator Walter Timilty (D-Milton) filing legislation that would authorize the treasurer and retirement officials to act.

“Since Russia launched the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine last week, we have heard from a growing number of public retirees concerned that their pension assets could possibly benefit Putin and the Russian government. While we applaud Treasurer Goldberg and the PRIM Board for their work and share their concern, it is important that they have the legal backing necessary to carry out their fiduciary responsibilities,” said Mass Retirees President Frank Valeri, who is also an elected member of the State Retirement Board. “Our Association does not take lightly the use of divestment or the politization of public pension funds. However, extreme circumstances require immediate deliberate action.

“The free world must stand united against the barbaric action of Putin and Russia, which has already resulted in the deaths of scores of Ukraine civilians, as well as threatens global security and economic stability. In this case, full divestment from Russia is the right course of action.”

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