Chicago teachers pension trustees to review investments in arms companies, beginning with Smith-Wesson
Trustees of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund have begun a review of the fund's $10 billion investment portfolio with an eye towards divesting from corporations that manufacture and sell assault weapons and ammunition clips that can contain dozens or more rounds for rapid-fire.
The first discussion of the proposal took place on December 27, 2012, at a meeting of the CTPF's pension law and rules committee. That committee is chaired by the fund's vice president, elementary school teacher Lois Ashford. During the discussion, Pension Fund President Jay Rehak and Vice President Ashford discussed the need for more gun control based on both the recent massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown Connecticut and the regular shootings and killings in Chicago. CTPF staff presented a preliminary review of arms companies in which the fund has holdings. The largest is Smith and Wesson, of which the CTPF owns $400,000 worth of Smith and Wesson stock.
Rehak noted that the review was prompted by the recent massacre of children and teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school. Ashford reminded the trustees that children of the same ages are dying regularly in Chicago because of guns in the hands of criminals. She cited a particular example from her own experience teaching elementary school in Chicago. Rehak later remembered a student at Whitney Young High School (Class of 2007) whose murder was remembered during the school's graduation ceremonies that year.
Trustee James Ward, who represents retired teachers, noted that when the issue of apartheid in South Africa came before the fund a quarter century ago, the trustees were able to vote to divest from corporations doing business with the white supremacist regime that at the time ruled the country and was keeping future Noble Prize winner Nelson Mandela in prison.
The issue will be on the agenda of the fund's regular meeting in January.