Sean Harrigan remained defiant

The tenure of the president of America’s biggest pension fund was terminated yesterday, amid accusations of a plan by Arnold Schwarzenegger to force him from office.

Sean Harrigan, a union leader and champion of shareholder rights, was put in charge of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, known as Calpers, last year.

But last night he was voted out of office by the State Personnel Board, the California Government organisation that elects one member of the Calpers board to oversee its operations. He will step down in January, when his term expires, wrote The Times.

The State Personnel Board, which controls one seat on the CalPERS board, voted 3-2 at a meeting in San Francisco to replace Sean Harrigan, the outspoken union leader who has served on the pension fund board for nearly five years and has been its president for nearly two.

Starting Jan. 1, businessman Ronald Alvarado, who served on the CalPERS board from 1996 to 1999, will take Harrigan's seat on the pension fund board, but will not become president. Instead, CalPERS Vice President Rob Feckner, a Harrigan ally, will temporarily fill the position if needed until the CalPERS board elects a new slate of officers in February., reports San Francisco Chronicle.

Even when the initiatives failed they often pitted Harrigan, a union official, against business groups. Harrigan, who had expected to lose his job, remained defiant. "Removing one person will not reduce the strength, the commitment nor the resolve to fight for our members," he said. But other activists saw a much broader effort underway to change the leadership of many pension funds, which in the last few years have struggled because of market losses and increasing obligations to retirees.

Richard Ferlauto, Director of pension investment for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said Harrigan’s ouster was an early success in a campaign to wrest control of pension money from a Calpers board now controlled by Democratic trustees and put it to work in projects more in keeping with Republican ideals.

"Clearly, we’re seeing a Republican attack on public pension systems," Ferlauto said. "And California has been targeted in a very strong way", informs Indian Express.

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