Building Trades President Sean McGarvey Speaks Out on Responsible Investing with Pension Funds

As reported by the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust:

Sean McGarvey President of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department.

Sean McGarvey
President of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department.

The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust thanks Sean McGarvey, President of North America’s Building Trades Unions, for his strong support of the HIT and its work in advancing union goals and priorities. In his keynote address to the Building Trades 2014 Legislative Conference this week, McGarvey urged unions to put their pension assets to work in investments that further the best interests of their members.

“I will shout this until I am blue in the face: If your union is not investing a portion of its pension fund resources into those funds that are actually helping us secure projects and put our members to work, then I suggest you re-examine your allocations,” McGarvey told a packed auditorium in Washington, DC. He cited the HIT as one of the union-friendly funds that seek “a comparable rate of return on your investment and put our members back to work at the same time.”

Such investments, he said, are helping building trades unions to “gain the attention of developers and local governments who are seeking financing options and partners for their projects.”  When funds like the HIT step up with needed financing, he emphasized, “We are then able to influence the labor strategy on those projects.”

“We deeply appreciate President McGarvey’s message about responsible investing,” said Lesyllee White, HIT Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Marketing.  “The investment goals he cited – competitive returns coupled with union job creation – are precisely the objectives that have guided the HIT and its predecessor for nearly 50 years.”  The HIT’s Construction Jobs Initiative, she noted, illustrates the success of this strategy – generating competitive returns for investors while creating nearly 18,500 union construction jobs in the last five years. White added, “Members of the HIT marketing team would be pleased to meet with pension trustees to discuss the HIT’s investment strategy and performance.”

Former President Bill Clinton addressed the Building Trades and commended the unions for working to achieve the green jobs goals of the Clinton Global Initiative. The HIT has supported labor’s participation in the Clinton initiative by investing more than $540 million since 2011 to help finance energy-saving retrofit and rehabilitation projects, generating over 2,500 union construction jobs.

The conference provided the opportunity for HIT staff to talk with hundreds of Building Trades representatives. “We heard a great deal about the positive impact of the HIT’s projects around the country,” said Emily Johnstone, HIT Western Regional Marketing Director.  “It’s always great to hear that, and we look forward to more projects and more jobs.”