Following Months of Impassioned CFA Advocacy, CalPERS Finally Ends its Investments in Private Migrant Detention

The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) no longer maintains a financial interest in private prison operators CoreCivic and GEO Group, which run the largest family migrant detention centers in the nation. Marking the culmination of a months long campaign, CalPERS executives informed CFA’s board of directors last Friday that it had made the decision to pull its financial interests from two of the nation’s most notorious private prison companies.

The Sacramento Bee covered the development in a story that ran on Monday, quoting Margarita Berta-Ávila, CFA’s Associate Vice President and professor at CSU Sacramento: “Our union was not going to stand by and watch our pension dollars support these terrible corporations, and we’re pleased to see that CalPERS’ investment analysts have come to the same conclusion.”

We initiated this campaign for change back in January, when Rebecca Bartel, a CFA member from San Diego State, brought the issue to Charles Toombs, who was then CFA Vice President. When CFA delegates met next, at the April 2019 Assembly, we adopted a resolution calling out CalPERS for using CFA members’ pensions to financially support these private prison operators, who both lay claim to a sordid and long history of human rights abuses. Since then, faculty have appeared at monthly CalPERS meetings to demand the pension fund cut its investments with these companies.

CalPERS Vice President Theresa Taylor told CFA leaders that this decision came after a review of its investments and is part of CalPERS’ strategy on responsible investment; both sides committed to working together on matters of social justice in the future.

Charles Toombs, CFA President and professor of Africana Studies at San Diego State University said, “Our members’ unwavering dedication to bringing about this change made all the difference. This is a proud day for our union and an important one for those who have suffered injustices at the hands of CoreCivic and GEO Group.”