The American Federation of Teachers, or AFT, is calling on Pennsylvania’s $56.2 billion school employees’ retirement fund (PSERs) and 23 other large pension funds to consider divesting their stock in private prison corporations.
A new AFT report found that PSERs is among two dozen public pension funds that own a combined $75 million in investments in CoreCivic and GEO, the nation’s largest public prison corporations, Governing magazine reported.
The union cautioned that such investments not only support private prisons, which lack the oversight mechanisms of the federal prisons and include immigration detention centers, but also expose the pension funds to public relations and legal issues that could affect the value of such investments.
PSERs spokeswoman Evelyn Williams said she had yet to hear of any specific calls for divestment to PSERs. She said the pension fund does not invest or divest based on concerns about social issues.
“Those investments are part of the SP 400 index … meaning anyone that passively invests in the SP400 index would hold those investments just like PSERs,” Williams said. “The few times we have divested — like Sudan and Iran — in the past required legislation to be passed.”