Business & Tech

Mass. teachers union pushes state pension fund to divest

Days after activists pressed the Massachusetts state pension fund to divest of fossil fuel companies, the Massachusetts teachers union has endorsed a bill in the state Legislature aimed at curbing investments in companies that contribute to climate change.

In a statement Monday, the Massachusetts Teachers Association said it was supporting a measure proposed by state Representative Marjorie Decker, a Cambridge Democrat, that would require the $65 billion state pension fund to divest of coal companies. The bill also would create a commission to evaluate divestment from oil and gas companies.

In the past, the Legislature has passed measures calling on the pension fund to divest of tobacco, investments in South Africa, and other holdings.

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The MTA is the largest union in the state, with over 110,000 teachers, faculty and staff at public schools and colleges.

The push comes as other large investment funds and endowments have faced pressure to divest of coal and fossil fuel holdings. Students have protested at Harvard University to get the endowment to divest and officials there recently said they were “pausing” direct investments in some fossil fuels. Columbia University, meanwhile, has agreed to divest of coal.

Beth Healy can be reached at beth.healy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @HealyBeth.