Wednesday, March 16, 2011
This article provides a first time look at the numerous challenges facing multiemployer or Taft-Hartley benefit plans in the post-global recession and health care reform world. These plans have provided pension, health, and welfare benefits to union members of smaller employers in itinerant industries for over sixty years and even today, these plans collectively have over ten million participants in over 1500 plans.
Multiemployer plans are increasingly mired in financial trouble and are finding it more difficult to continue to provide adequate retirement and health benefits to their members. Although they once represented one of the great triumphs in American labor relations, these plans are now becoming just another part of the growing employee benefits crisis confronting the United States.
The purpose of this article is to consider, and respond to, the various financial, healthcare, and judicial challenges that threaten the on-going viability of these plans. By addressing these challenges in a systematic manner, this article seeks to provide a more sustainable path forward so that multiemployer benefit plans can continue to provide crucial employee benefits to the next generation of union workers.