The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

More companies ending contributions to workers' 401(k) retirement plans

Mar 17, 2003

Charles Schwab Corporation, a large brokerage firm whose chairman has championed 401(k) retirement plans for years, recently announced that it was no longer going to match its employees' contributions to their 401(k) plans. Schwab is just the latest of a growing list of companies that have been reducing or totally abandoning their commitment to contribute to 401(k) plans. Goodyear Tire and Rubber, Great Northern Paper, Tech Data, El Paso Corporation, CMS Energy, DaimlerChrysler and Ford Motor Company have all done the same, as have many state and local governments, including the State of Maryland.

Some workers have only 401(k) plans to supplement poverty-level Social Security payments. Other workers have 401(k) plans as supplements to a regular pension. But in every case, these 401(k) plans were trumpeted by company bosses and government officials as a way for workers to build up a significant financial nest egg that would provide them with retirement security.

The collapse of the stock market demonstrated what an illusion that was. And the refusal of big companies to keep their commitment to kick in money shows what a scam it was.

We are going backwards. Workers who have contributed all their lives to the growth of this society are being dumped and told to fend for themselves in their old age. It's an outrage. Their work produced much more wealth than they ever saw – and it's sitting in the bank vaults of all those people who have been playing the Wall Street casino. There's money to be had. The people who worked all their lives need to take it.