Multiemployer Plans – A Proposal to Spread the Pain

Source: Alicia H. Munnell, Jean-Pierre Aubry, Wenliang Hou and Anthony Webb, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, IB#14-17, October 2014

The brief’s key findings are:
A small, but significant, number of multiemployer pension plans face insolvency in the next 20 years – despite actions to reduce benefits and raise contributions.
To avoid insolvency, a Commission with representatives from plans, employers, and unions has proposed allowing plans to cut accrued benefits of current workers and retirees.
Critics are concerned that such a tool is unnecessary and would unfairly hurt plan participants, particularly retirees.
Our analysis of one large plan suggests that the proposal would improve overall participant welfare, but leave the plan operating largely on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Thus, before approving the use of such a tool, regulators should have access to detailed plan data to ensure not only solvency, but also a reasonable level of funding.