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US Pensions Funding Military Weapons

Research from shareholder advocacy group As You Sow has revealed that 55 S&P 500 companies are channelling hundreds of billions of dollars into nuclear bombs, cluster munitions, and other weapons through employee retirement 401(k) plans. Every plan analysed had companies linked to nuclear and controversial weapons in their top 100 equity holdings – with RTX Corp, Boeing, and GE Aerospace among the most frequent investments. The retirement plans of healthcare and pharmaceutical companies were covered in the analysis, as well as multinationals such as Disney, Microsoft, Comcast and Whole Foods. The plans included in the study accounted for a total US$1.2 trillion in employee savings. “Employees’ retirement savings are being funnelled into companies that manufacture weapons of mass destruction, and it’s happening on autopilot, without their knowledge,” said Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow. “Employees need to be aware of this practice. Most employees would like their retirement funds invested in companies that are building a better, more sustainable future rather than in war, death, and destruction.” The analysis was performed as part of As You Sow’s Weapon Free Funds – a tool built to help responsible investors identify companies involved with arms manufacturing, using research from non-profits and ethical investment firms that is cross-referenced with the holdings of mutual and exchange-traded funds. The report covered both stock and bond investments – with the latter especially concerning given their proceeds can be used by military weapon manufacturers to expand arms and ammunition production, As You Sow said. Investors have previously raised concerns about the humanitarian impacts of conventional military weapons, as well as potential violations of international human rights laws. They have also brought shareholder proposals requesting human rights impact assessments at RTX Corp, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

 

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