Councilmember Jean Godden
Councilmember Nick Licata
CITY EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT BOARD ACTS TO DIVEST FROM SUDAN
Board unanimously passes policy and resolution directing divestment
SEATTLE – Today the Board of Directors of the Seattle City Employees Retirement System (SCERS) took action to divest in companies that have business interests in Sudan. This action follows a lengthy review and analysis of the geo-political and social issues affecting the people of Sudan and specifically those suffering from genocide in the Darfur region of that country.
In today’s meeting the board voted unanimously for a policy that would allow SCERS to take quick action to stop investment of city employees’ retirement funds in companies that have business interests in Sudan. Taking into account the board’s fiduciary obligations to members of the System as its top priority the policy “gives favorable consideration to investments in securities of companies that meet a high ethical and social standard of conduct…”. A resolution calling for divestment of funds and no further investment in companies with business interests in Sudan was introduced by Mark McDermott, Personnel Director for the City of Seattle, and also passed unanimously at today’s meeting.
Councilmember Jean Godden, chair of the Retirement Board said, “I’m very pleased with our decision. The president and Congress have acknowledged that the government of Sudan has engaged in genocide in the Darfur region -- the first time that such a declaration has been made during the commission of such abhorrent crimes. While the retirement board is not heavily invested in companies doing business in Sudan, it is gratifying that the board, through passage of a new financial policy, was able to take this step.”
Councilmember Licata said, “I’m proud that Seattle has joined twenty other cities divesting in companies that are doing business in Sudan. Over a year ago I requested that Seattle divest in Sudan. During that time our employees’ retirement board reviewed and analyzed the impact of Sudan divestment policy on our employee’s benefits. They decided that our retirement fund would not be adversely affected. More importantly we have now joined the effort to stop genocide in Sudan.”
The Seattle City Employees Retirement System joins other municipalities and public entities across the country who have adopted similar policies including Baltimore, MD; Charlottesville, VA; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Edina, MN; Los Angeles, CA; MetroWest, NJ; Miami Beach, FL; Miami Gardens, FL; New Haven, CT; Newton, MA; Palm Beach Gardens, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Providence, RI; San Francisco, CA; St. Paul, MN; Washington D.C; and Worcester, MA.
The vote took place after the formulation of a policy allowing the Board to divest under certain circumstances according to prescribed guidelines. These guidelines will help the board meet its obligation to all city employees and members of the retirement system while maintaining high ethical and social standards.