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The 2014 Pension 40: Damon Silvers

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Damon Silvers
Director of Policy
and Special Counsel
AFL-CIO

As director of policy and special counsel for the AFL-CIO, the U.S.’s largest federation of unions, with 12.6 million members, Damon Silvers is a powerful voice defending defined benefit pensions. “Real pensions provide real retirement security because they have real funding structures, because they pool risks that individuals cannot manage on their own and because they give ordinary people access to professional money management at very low cost,” says Silvers, 50, who joined the AFL-CIO as associate general counsel in 1997. “Replacing real pensions with savings accounts leaves workers with pitiful account balances, prey to high fees and facing longevity and capital market risk that they have no way of managing.” Silvers graduated from Harvard College and received a JD from Harvard Law School and an MBA from Harvard Business School. His labor activities began when he was one of two undergraduates invited to join the negotiating team of the union representing Harvard’s dining hall staff. He was also a student leader in efforts to get institutions to divest from corporations doing business with apartheid South Africa. One of his early AFL-CIO assignments was negotiating severance and pension packages for laid-off WorldCom and Enron Corp. workers. These days pensions are not the only issue in Silvers’ portfolio, but he remains passionate about them. “When an employer commits to a pension, that is a contractual obligation,” he says. “We hear in this country that contractual obligations are sacred. It would be nice if that applied to ordinary people as well as banks.”

The 2014 Pension 40

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Bruce Rauner
Illinois
John and
Laura Arnold

Laura and John
Arnold Foundation
Randi Weingarten
American Federation of Teachers
Rahm Emanuel
Chicago
David Boies
Boies, Schiller & Flexner
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Randy DeFrehn
National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans
Damon Silvers
AFL-CIO
Laurence Fink
BlackRock
Chris Christie
New Jersey
Robin Diamonte
United Technologies Corp.
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Ted Eliopoulos
California Public Employees’ Retirement System
John Kline
Minnesota
J. Mark Iwry
U.S. Treasury Department
Gina Raimondo
Rhode Island
Phyllis Borzi
U.S. Labor Department
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Orrin Hatch
Utah
Abigail Johnson
Fidelity Investments
Ted Wheeler
Oregon
Caitlin Long
Morgan Stanley
James Hoffa
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
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Amy Kessler
Prudential Financial
Alejandro
García Padilla

Puerto Rico
Christopher Klein
U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Caifornia
Steven Rhodes
Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
Kevin de León
California
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David Draine
Pew Charitable Trusts
Jordan Marks
National Public Pension Coalition
Sam Liccardo
California
Joshua Rauh
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Karen Ferguson and Karen Friedman
Pension Rights Center
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Timothy Blake
Moody’s Investors Service
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Center for Retirement Initiatives, Georgetown University
Edward (Ted) Siedle
Benchmark Financial Services
Daniel Loeb
Third Point
Judy Mares
Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Labor Department
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Andrew Biggs
American Enterprise Institute
Andy Stern
Columbia University
Kenneth Mehlman
KKR & Co.
Teresa Ghilarducci
New School for Social Research
A. Melissa Moye
U.S. Treasury Department


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