Saturday, June 13, 2009

Work Law, Pedagogy, and VEBAs

Bulb Congratulations to Ruben Garcia, Catherine Fisk, and others on the AALS Planning Committee for pulling together a a great mid-year conference on Work Law.  Thanks to Paul Secunda, Scott Moss, Melissa Hart, and others for proposing it and obtaining AALS approval.

Only one blemish:  I was disappointed to learn that at conferences such as this, AALS routinely waives the registration fee for speakers on substantive but not pedagogical topics.  I suspect that this is an accurate reflection of misplaced institutional priorities.

The biggest light-bulb moment for me came in the ERISA presentation Friday afternoon by Colleen Medill (Nebraska) and Susan Cancelosi (Wayne State), when I asked a question about underfunded auto-industry VEBAs.  (Recall that VEBAs are investment trusts into which employers place some assets and all the liabilities for covering future employee benefits.)  Susan pointed out that although auto-industry VEBAs are advertised as a long-term solution to retiree health care, neither the auto companies nor the unions have any expectation that the VEBAs will function this way.  Instead, the VEBAs are intended -- and funded -- merely as bridges to Medicare for the legions of auto-industry workers who have retired at an age too early to qualify for health insurance through that government program.



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So all those assurances to union members, and all those statements to the public, were just lies? So Ron Gettelfinger misled his members when he urged them to vote for the VEBA because it would have enough money to pay health care benefits for the next eighty years?

Posted by: Dennis Nolan | Jun 13, 2009 11:31:29 AM

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