Divesting from fossil fuel investments in two of Tacoma’s retirement portfolios is an idea worthy of further study, the City Council said Tuesday.
But the Tacoma Joint Labor Committee, which represents seven of the city’s unions, is opposed. In a letter to Mayor Marilyn Strickland, the chairwoman of the committee, Alice Phillips, said investment strategies based on moral judgments can be a slippery slope — and carry financial risk.
The city’s Sustainable Tacoma Commission recommended that the city divest of fossil fuel investments in the Tacoma Employment Retirement Services and deferred compensation accounts. The commission was created in 2008 to oversee implementation of the city’s climate change action plan.
Several large cities, including Seattle, Portland and San Francisco, have recently divested from fossil fuels, Councilman Anders Ibsen said.
The city’s Joint Labor Committee said in its letter that if the city plans to divest of fossil fuels, it should also consider divesting of “funds from countries or companies who do not adhere to or provide basic worker’s rights or a living wage.”
“We would also like to remind you that the money in these two plans (is) not the city of Tacoma’s money,” Phillips said in the letter. “It is the members who participate in those programs.”
Strickland, who is the chairwoman of the TERS board, said the board does not have the expertise to examine the city’s portfolio and eliminate fossil fuel investments. The city would have to hire a fund manager to ferret out all of those investments.
The issue could be revisited at a future Government Performance and Finance Committee meeting.Kate Martin: 253-597-8542 kate.martin@ thenewstribune.com