Saturday, June 13, 2009
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.