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Union Pension Turmoil

The Iron Workers Local 17 in Ohio has become the first pension fund to get Treasury Department approval to cut benefits. Had cuts not been approved, the fund was projected to go insolvent by 2024. “As for current retirees, there are 336 who will see cuts of 30 percent to 60 percent.”

In Nebraska, two cities are looking to change their police and fire benefits plan from one that is defined to a cash-balance plan, similar to a 401k. The proposed bill drew protests from firefighters and police officers in Omaha and Lincoln.

Union Pension Woes

The New York State Teamsters Conference Pension and Retirement Fund is expected to file an application today to reduce benefits under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014. According to the last 5500 filing in 2014, this plan was 46.5% funded. In a letter on February 5th to the plan’s 34,639 participants, fund trustees estimated that the plan will go insolvent within the next 19 years.

The Teamsters application to the Treasury Department follows two other applications submitted by the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers Locals 5 and 7.

Meanwhile, Congress is considering legislation that would use taxpayer dollars to bail out the “overpromised, underfunded pension plan of the United Mine Workers of America.” This article gives a great synopsis of why that’s a terrible idea. Here’s a quick quote:

Continue reading Union Pension Woes

Teamster Beat

pension-cutsMore than 273,000 Teamsters members and retirees are facing drastic pension cuts.

While Central States Pension Fund claims the average cut is 22 percent per retiree, Mike Walton, chairman of the recently formed Central Ohio Committee to Protect Pensions, said “We don’t know how they even came up with those numbers.” He cites a friend and Teamster retiree who claims a cut of over 60 percent. Whatever the true numbers are, they’re bad enough that committees are being created across the nation to fight it. There are currently 31 committees in 28 states.

The big question on everyone’s mind is: “What happened to all that money?”

A recent investigation into the Ohio Conference of Teamsters by the Independent Review Board found that the conference spent

Continue reading Teamster Beat

Union Pensions On The Ropes

We have mentioned time and again the critical condition of union pension plans, particularly multi-employer pension plans like the Teamsters Central States fund. This Crain’s article highlights the problems in Chicago alone, and notes that Central States could go belly-up within ten years.

The problem extends beyond the plans themselves. It is likely that with the collapse of Central States or a variety of other troubled funds, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the federal agency which “guarantees” such funds, could itself go belly up.

The PBGC’s annual report says its multi-employer program has a $42.4 billion deficit, up almost 500% from its $8.3 billion deficit just last year. The shoe will drop, and unfortunately, both pensioners and taxpayers will likely take a huge hit.


INK: October 22, 2009

inkquill22 Labor Relations INK

Download a PDF of this issue with links here.

In This Issue:

• EFCA Update • Becker Appointment Controversy • Rules, What Rules? • PLUS October Scoreboard, Employee Relations Tip-Of-The-Month, and more…

EFCA Update

0908_unionstudies_coercionNot much movement on the Employee Free Choice Act front, other than continued posturing by both sides. The U.S. Chamber released a new white paper debunking union studies on employer coercion. You can download the “Union Studies on Employer Coercion Lack Credibility and Integrity” here, and download all the Chamber papers on the subject here. Christopher Prandoni from the Alliance for Worker Freedom makes a great case that the equal

Continue reading INK: October 22, 2009

INK: September 11, 2009

inkquill22 Labor Relations INK

Download a PDF of this issue with links here.

In This Issue:

• Insight from Phil Wilson • Big Labor Unveils Organizing Secrets • “Public Option” Failures • Union Support Withering • and more…

Labor Relations Insight from Phil Wilson


I love that show Mythbusters. I guess any guy who remains as mature as a 14 years old – like me – probably does. What’s better than watching a bunch of pyromaniacs take on myths like, “can playing your stereo too loud cause loaded AK-47’s in the back seat of your car to spontaneously start firing” (turns out that it can’t).

Yesterday we released our latest White Paper “IS THERE A TARGET ON MY BACK? Myths and Best Practices in Assessing Vulnerability

Continue reading INK: September 11, 2009

INK: August 13, 2009

inkquill22 Labor Relations INK

Download a PDF of this issue with links here.

In This Issue:

• Insight from Phil Wilson • “Time For Payback” Say Union Bosses • SEIU Watch • Coercion Beyond Cards • and more…

Labor Relations Insight from Phil Wilson

Can Employee Satisfaction Surveys REALLY Predict Union Organizing?

Employee satisfaction surveys are a pain.

They are tough to administer. If you get administration wrong you may get sketchy results. You get piles of data that can be hard to interpret. In the worst cases companies get “paralysis of analysis” and don’t report results back to employees. In these cases a survey can actually create frustration instead of fix it.

Which all begs the question: Why do an employee satisfaction survey in the first

Continue reading INK: August 13, 2009

INK: January 22, 2009

inkquill22 Labor Relations INK

Download a PDF of this issue with links here.

Labor Relations Insight from Phil Wilson

Online Organizing

A really interesting article in The Nation about the promise – and perils – of online organizing. Among the most interesting things it discusses is how the web 2.0 world is actually a threat to unions in the traditional sense of the word.

The “distributed” nature of the web can destroy hierarchical structures (just as it has in the business world). Where a group of workers can self-organize around a problem, why do they need to fund and deal with the politics of a super-structure with its own agenda? They don’t.

read the rest of the article here…


SEIU Meltdown

Continue reading INK: January 22, 2009