Heartland's Annual Gov Board Meeting April 4, 2022 Washington DC
For the first time since 2019 Heartland was able to gather, in person, to hold its Annual Governing Board Meeting. 37 people attended, either in-person or remotely, to review Heartland's efforts over the past year and set our goals for the future.
Please see highlights from our meeting below:
Ed Smith, President & CEO-ULLICO speaks on Heartland Col(Labor)atory: "[T]he support of workers and workers’ capital--that’s Heartland’s mission and they not only help union workers,
but all workers. It can also be used to improve the environment and workers’ communities. . . The AFL-CIO has a new boss, Liz Schuler, and she wants to see it grow. You’re all aware of the challenges, the limited resources, they don’t have the money. We had the [AFL-CIO] Center for Working Capital, but they’re gone now and that’s where Heartland comes in. Heartland is fulfilling the role the Center started. I’m proud to support Heartland."
The Col(Labor)atory “S” Solution to Strengthen the "S" in ESG
"The Col(labor)atory survey is a painless but robust and meaningful screen. For those who say they’re doing the right thing, here’s a way to say you did it." Debbie Nisson, Heartland Co-Chair-Heartland
Click above for a quick video introducing the Col(labor)atory's survey tool
Heartland's two+ year long project, the Col(Labor)atory “S” Solution, was officially introduced and enthusiastically received. Ed Smith, President & CEO-ULLICO, helped present the efforts of Heartland co-chairs, Debbie Nisson and Steve Sleigh. With the Col(Labor)atory Heartland will be able to monitor how firms are working with and respecting labor, which will put the “L” in the “S” of ESG.
"My experience with multiemployer pension funds showed me that these funds presented us with an investment opportunity. In my work there was no screen, no way to tell the good from the bad and the ugly. Everything was based on returns. . . I stayed up nights worried that we’d be able to cut the checks we needed to support everyone. But you can meet fiduciary responsibility and support workers—you can do both." Steve Sleigh, Heartland Co-Chair
The Col(Labor)atory surveys will identify the "good actors." What could this lead to? Ed Smith gives an example: "Ullico won a federal government auction for 83,000+ acres of offshore windfarm in NY. It’s a multi-billion-dollar project, thousands of jobs, all union. That’s the Ullico difference. We’re different—we meet every two weeks to go over our projects. We don’t sell, flip, etc. These are 30-year pensions, we’re long-term. And every two weeks we go through everything, down to the maintenance contract, to make sure it’s all union.”
Heartland's Policy Efforts
David Keto, Managing Principal-SRI Group, described Heartland’s work in coordination with Congressman Levin on establishing legislative support for Responsible Investing. Heartland was out in
front on opposing Trump’s ESG rule and collaborated with Congressman Levin’s office to submit comments on replacement changes proposed by the Biden Department of Labor under Marty Walsh. We are also supporting Congressman Levin’s effort to move legislation that will settle the acceptability of responsible investment in retirement plans once and for all. In the meeting Heartland took the opportunity to thank Mez Araya, Legislative Assistant- Office of Congressman Andy Levin, and acknowledge the great partnership we have had in the past year.
Mez Araya: "We had a lot of meetings last year! We’ve proposed two bills to introduce to congress. I want to echo that this is a priority, and that in these bills Labor is part of the considerations, not an afterthought. We were able to get 20 members to co-sign our letter on this “wonky” issue. We were able to educate the members and get them to care. The next step is to enact the DOL rules, then codify and update the rules as we go on."
Heartland's Sustainable Finance Hub and partnership with IBEW-NECA
Ramsey Stevens, Program Director-NECA-IBEW (pictured below, R) introduced the audience to NECA-IBEW’s investment portal and how this could coordinate with Heartland's efforts to expand much-needed investment in sustainable energy projects that provide union jobs and apprenticeship opportunities in the field.
Also pictured is David Wilhelm, Partner & Chief Strategy Officer-Hecate, (below, L). Hecate was a partner in a Cincinnati Solar Farm, the largest municipal solar project east of the Mississippi. Hecate’s goal is to build a solar manufacturing supply chain from WVA to Pittsburgh.
“We need an American solar manufacturing ecosystem. And because I’m from Appalachia, I’d like some of it to be located there. Let the people who mined the coal for the old energy system have a stake in the new energy system and jobs. . . What we need is a huge ecosystem from ingots, chips, cells, panels, etc.. . This investment would be a game changer for this region." David Wilhelm
Kristen Estell, Heartland Outreach Specialist, presented the proposed Sustainable Finance Hub website and Heartland’s ultimate goal of creating a one-stop-shop for bringing together Heartland’s “unique table” of investment firms—private equity, real estate, union pension funds, academics, investment consultants who advise pension funds and asset managers designing tools and products for pensions with opportunities to create good, green jobs that re-invest in Appalachia’s Upper Ohio River Valley. The first step will be clearly telling the story of what kind of investments have already been made in affordable, multi-family housing, green infrastructure, union-made sustainable building, and more.
Michael Cairns, CEBS Partner- NEPC, LLC emphasized he has seen a need for this type of tool:
“Three years ago, we worked with the Pennsylvania treasurer’s [office] on this. They wanted to know all the locations of investments—what was the number of employees in their world? Displaying this information on a map would show them this. We need to show the commitment to the S in ESG.”
Heartland and Georgetown's prestigious Labor Capital Strategies Fellowship
In attendance were former Fellows from the Labor Capital Strategies Fellowship, along with our Georgetown partners, Dean Patricia Grant, Dean of McDonough School of Business Undergraduate Program- Georgetown University and Juan Belmán Guerrero, Director of Student Programming-GU Kalmanovitz Initiative. If you haven't already caught up on the progress and growth of this program please see our 2021 report here.
Fellowship Host, Joe Enright, Senior Vice President-GCM Grosvenor commented that he’s "seen firsthand the incredible quality of the candidates. These students are the top level of talent, the cream of the crop. Every Fellow ... has been earnest, hardworking, and eager to learn."
Expanding Heartland's Footprint and Audience
Thalia Lankin, Chief Strategy Officer-AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation (R) and Communications Committee Ch-Chair. Thalia and Kristen explained Heartland's plan to roll out programs to expand the Expresso audience, as well as getting our friends and family to connect with us on social media. If you haven’t already, please join us on our social media: Facebook, LinkedIn (our LCS Fellowship page) and Twitter .
Pictured left, David Keto, Managing Principal-SRI Group Communications Committee Co-chair:
"[W]hat good is your retirement money is there’s no world to retire in? People know this. 90% of people surveyed want sustainable options for their 401ks. We need to invest $2.7 trillion on the energy supply side between now and 2030 to cut greenhouse gas emissions by half. And we need to invest 10 trillion to get to the 2050 goal."
(Also pictured, Howard Reich, Managing Director- Invesco US)