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Thursday, 17th July 2008

Union vs. Private Sector Pensions: How Secure Are Union Membersí Retirements?

Union vs. Private Sector Pensions: How Secure Are Union Membersí Retirements? (PDF; 411 KB)
Source: Hudson Institute

At a time when unions are intensifying their efforts to organize American workers, it is troubling to see a widespread pattern of poor performance among collectively bargained pension plans. They perform quite poorly relative to plans sponsored unilaterally by employers for nonunion employees. The disparity raises this question: are union members getting as good a deal in their retirement funding as they might? Or, to put it another way, do collective bargaining contracts lack provisions for the funding necessary to generate the generous retirement income that unions advertise?

This paper offers explanatory background information on pensions, on sources of information about pensions, on the reporting and disclosure requirements of Congress and the U.S. Department of Labor, and on the data and analysis that illuminate sources of the underfunding problem. It also examines the role that union politics may play in pension planning. The paper goes on to analyze the general health of pension plans in the United States and, in particular, documents six case histories that illustrate underfunding patterns in union pension plans. The data show that, generally, employer plans are better funded, although not all have been adequately funded.


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