July 2014 Newsletter
Top Fund Performance
We are proud of the fact that the Equity Index Fund continues to be one of the top funds of its type in the country. In fact, although past performance is not a guarantee of future results, just having passed its three-year anniversary the Fund has a three-year annualized return of 14.58%.
I recently had the opportunity to make a presentation in Rome with International Brotherhood of Boilermakers President Newton Jones. We were addressing a global conference about the potential impact of union pension dollars. We explained that they can be a vehicle to not only generate competitive returns, but also to create good ongoing jobs and strengthen the voice of the labor movement.
The AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund also has the added benefit of helping the labor movement by voting in line with the AFL-CIO Proxy Voting Guidelines 100 percent of the time.
The AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund uses this platform to successfully tackle corporate pay disclosure, golden parachutes, and excessive perks for executives.
For more information, please contact Randy Kinder at 202-898-9190 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
President & Managing Director
AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation (ITC)
A Special Interview with Heather Slavkin Corzo
New Director of the AFL-CIO Office of Investment
Heather Slavkin Corzo has been named the Director of the AFL-CIO Office of Investment, the department which gives workers a voice in capital markets by leading corporate governance shareholder initiatives and advocating legislative and regulatory reform.
In her previous role as Senior Legal and Policy Advisor for the Office of Investment, Corzo advocated for Wall Street reform in response to the 2008 financial crisis.
Corzo received her Juris Doctor from the Boston University School of Law in 2005 and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in the same year. She was also admitted to the Washington, D.C. Bar.
Heather, tell us about how you first got involved in the labor movement.
First, I want to thank the Fund for the opportunity to share my views here. I am really excited about the opportunity to lead the Office of Investment and elevate the voices of working people on important matters related to the capital markets.
How I ended up in the labor movement is an interesting story. I went to law school hoping to use what I learned to become an activist and make the world more “fair” – I literally wrote my law school admissions essay about fairness. As graduation approached, however, I realized that I needed to find a well-paying job so that I could afford to pay down the mountain of student debt I had taken on to finance my education. So, I landed in the mutual fund industry.
After a short time, I realized that I was never going to be happy there. I left and went to work for a progressive organization promoting Democratic congressional candidates during the 2006 mid-term elections. Someone I met through that work introduced me to the folks at the AFL-CIO, and in January 2007 I began working as a researcher in the Office of Investment.
What makes AFL-CIO endorsed programs like the AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund so important?
Picking how to invest our retirement savings is a daunting task. We all want good returns, which means we need investments that perform well and charge low fees. At the same time, we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our values for financial returns. Because of the AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund and other AFL-CIO endorsed programs we don’t have to. The Fund, for example, votes in line with the AFL-CIO Proxy Voting Guidelines 100 percent of the time. This means that investors don’t have to worry that their shares are being used to promote management policies to award CEOs excessive pay or support entrenched boards.
What can unions expect to see from the AFL-CIO Office of Investment in the near future?
The AFL-CIO Office of Investment has been doing a lot of work taking on companies where we have concerns about human rights violations and excessive executive compensation. At first these may seem like completely separate issues but really they’re two sides of the same coin – when a company is spending too much paying the people at the very top it ends up squeezing the workers and this can often result in abuses. We will be turning up the volume on that work.
We are also in the process of developing new campaigns, which I’m excited to tell you about in the coming months. So, stay tuned for that…
More and more unions now understand the importance of the concept of “investing in ourselves” and using pension dollars to advance our shared values. Why do you think the growth is happening, and what does the term “investing in ourselves” mean to you?
I think that the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath served as a wake-up call to a lot of working people. Our faith in financial institutions and traditional investment funds was severely shaken, and rightfully so. And then, we watched as the stock market began to rebound and the top 1 percent just kept getting richer while the rest of us are still struggling to stay afloat.
In order for our economy to grow in a way that benefits working people, we need to invest in companies that hire American workers and behave like responsible members of society. That’s what “investing in ourselves” means to me – investing in the future of the American worker.
Shepard Burr is President of the ASB Investment Management division of ASB Capital Management, LLC.
The AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund’s two portfolio managers, Eric Kraus and Carlton Davis, are dedicated to providing excellent investment performance for investors. The Fund is already one of the top performers among its peers, achieving top-10% returns in its Lipper universe for every period measured. In total, Eric and Carlton manage $12.6 billion in passively-managed investments.
Eric has been in the financial industry for eleven years, including positions with Chevy Chase Financial Services and Chevy Chase Bank, before joining ASB Capital Management. He earned an undergraduate degree in business administration at the University of Richmond, and an MBA at Georgetown University.
Carlton previously worked at T. Rowe Price, in the defined contribution operations area, Northwestern Mutual, and Merrill Lynch. He earned an undergraduate degree in Finance at Miami University (Ohio).
ITC’s Own Vanessa Kohr Honored for Bravery
The AFL-CIO Investment Trust’s (ITC) Vanessa Kohr and her husband Jamie Kohr were recently recognized for acts of bravery by the Police Benevolent Association, the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD), and the police union.
They were on their way to New Hampshire approaching the George Washington tollway when a high speed car chase drove past them on the rim. After a police officer got into an accident related to the chase, the Kohrs picked him up and helped him to safety.
The police now have the fugitive in custody; he is facing a slew of charges including aggravated assault on Port Authority police officers, sexual assault, beating of his kidnapping victim, carjacking, and arson.
The police union and PAPD Chief Louie Komoutous honored the Kohrs in two events, including presenting them with the agency’s World Trade Center flag, which flew over One World Trade Center.
Vanessa’s husband Jamie, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is a 25-year military veteran and was previously recognized as the 2012 Airman of the Year.
What AFL-CIO State Federation Presidents are Saying About the AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund:
“About 49.6 percent of the workers earning minimum wage in this country are over the age of 25. The AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund is a critical way to ensure more fairness and transparency within companies around compensation through proxy voting 100 percent in accordance with the AFL-CIO Voting Guidelines.”
– Rebekah Friend, Executive Director/Secretary-Treasurer, Arizona AFL-CIO
“High-frequency trading, or rapid-fire trading as it is also known, can hurt the typical investor by allowing privileged traders to profit at the expense of others. But investors in the AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund are insulated from high-frequency trading. That’s because the Equity Index Fund’s buy-and-hold strategy minimizes trading costs.”
– Michael T. Carrigan, President, Illinois AFL-CIO
“At three-and-a-half years old, with more than $4.5 billion in market value, the AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund is the fastest growing fund in the AFL-CIO’s history. That is an accomplishment the entire labor movement can be proud of.”
– Fred Mason Jr.
Maryland State and D.C. AFL-CIO
“Two reasons why union pension funds should support the AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund—it has one of the lowest known management fees and also ensures that all proxy votes are 100 percent in accordance with AFL-CIO Proxy Voting Guidelines.”
– Karla Swift
Michigan State AFL-CIO