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How Obama is Running Government to Prevent Union Pension Collapse

Much of the first 14 months of the Obama administration has been a public “love story” between the White House and the Labor Unions. It seems as if President Obama has been basing many of his decisions on how they help the Union Bosses as opposed to how they help the entire country:

  • A large contributor to the bankruptcy of Chrysler and General Motors was the liability the Auto Giants owed to the UAW pension plans. In the buyout deal, the President gave the unions more than their fair share of the two companies at the expense of the primary investors who legally should have received more.
  • In September the POTUS announced that it would impose a tariff of 35 percent on $1.8 billion of automobile tires imports from China, angering the country holding a large chunk of our bonds, acting on a petition from one of his major constituencies, the United Steelworkers union.
  • Unions have been the fiercest proponents of the Obamacare. Andy Stern, head of the SEIU has been to the White House more than any other visitor. Some commentators have reported that’s Stern’s constant trips to the White House is due to his participation in reviewing the basic components of the health care bills as they are developed by the houses of congress. Why is this particular legislation so important to the unions? Because the unions pensions plans are woefully underfunded. The hope is once Obamacare is passed union workers will eventually be shoved over to the co-ops (or an eventual government option), freeing up union cash to help with the pension program.
  • As of this very moment the administration is working on a plan to give preference to Union Shops for ALL federal contracts. The proposal, dubbed the “High Road Contracting Policy,” was first reportedby The Daily Caller in early February. According to multiple sources familiar with the discussions, the proposal would give preference to government contractors that pay their hourly workers a “living wage” and provide additional benefits such as health insurance, employer-funded retirement plans and paid sick leave. In other words, they will be “cutting out” the non-union shops and raising the price of jobs, and increasing the federal deficit.
These are just a few ways the President is favoring his friends, the Union leaders over the needs of the Union Rank and file and the American People. The reason for the favorable treatment is that most Union Pension Plans are about to collapse and much of the rank and file may not even know that when they are ready to retire their pensions may not be there.

Should these pension plans collapse its curtains for the Union Leaders and it would not be the best recruiting tool for the labor movement in general.

How bad off are the union pension plans? The best single indicator of a plan’s financial health is its Funding Percentage. A fully funded plan will have a funding percentage of 100%. A plan is underfunded when the percentage is below 100%. The lower the percentage, the greater the risk that benefits will not be available when they come due.

According to the Pension Protection Act of 2006 multi-employer (plans set through unions and company sponsors) plans are evaluated via their funding levels. To ensure retiree benefits are protected, when a multiemployer plan falls below certain funding levels, stronger funding requirements become effective under provisions of the Pension Protection Act of 2006. Plans whose funding levels are below 80% are referred to as “endangered,” while those below 65% are referred to as “critical.”

Moody’s September 2009 report measured 133 union pension plans.  The list of 108 union pension plans below are the ones rated endangered or critical. Is your retirement plan in the list?
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Union Pension Plan % Funded
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Alaska Hotel & Restaurant Employees Pension Plan 79.70%
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American Federation of Musicians & Employers Pension 78.90%
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Teamsters Local 639 Employers Pension Trust 76.10%
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Producer-Writers Guild of America Pension Plan 75.90%
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Ohio Operating Engineers Pension Plan 75.70%
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Laborers District Council and Contractors Pension Fund of Ohio 75.40%
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Southern Nevada Culinary & Bartenders Pension Trust 75.40%
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Alaska Electrical Pension Plan 74.30%
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Alaska Laborers – Employers Retirement Fund 73.70%
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Electrical Contractors Assoc. of City of Chicago Union 134, IBEW Jt. Pension 2 73.70%
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Carpenters Retirement Plan of Western Washington 73.10%
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Automotive Industries Pension Plan 72.40%
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American Maritime Officers Pension Plan (2005) 72.40%
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United Mine Workers of America 1974 Pension Plan 72.30%
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GCIU Local 119B NY Printers League Pension Fund 71.40%
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National Elevator Industry Pension 71.00%
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Western Conference of Teamsters 70.60%
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Newspaper GUILD of NY the New York Times Pension Plan 70.50%
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Chicago District Council of Carpenters Pension Fund 70.10%
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District No. 9, IAM and Aerospace Workers Pension 69.70%
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Rocky Mt. UFCW Unions & Employers Pension Plan 69.50%
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Hotel/Casino – Summary 69.50%
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NECA-IBEW Pension Trust Fund 69.20%
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Central Pension Fund of the IUOE and Participating Employers 69.20%
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AFTRA Retirement Plan 68.90%
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Carpenters Pension Trust Fund of St Louis 68.60%
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MA State Carpenters Pension Fund 68.60%
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National Automatic Sprinkler Industry Pension 67.80%
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Midwest Operating Engineers Pension 67.80%
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Retail Clerks Pension Plan 67.70%
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Electrical Workers Pension Fund, Local 103, IBEW 67.50%
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Building Trades United Pension Trust Fund MIL and Vicinity 67.40%
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CWA/ITU Negotiated Pension Plan 66.80%
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UFCW Unions & Employers Midwest Pension Fund 66.70%
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Laborers Pension Fund 66.70%
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Carpenters Pension Fund of Philadelphia and Vicinity 66.40%
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UFCW International Union Pension Plan for Employees 66.40%
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Alaska Teamster-Employer Pension Plan 66.30%
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Steelworkers Pension Trust (2007) 66.20%
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Hotel Industry-ILWU Pension Plan 65.70%
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National Asbestos Workers Pension Fund 65.20%
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IUOE Stationary Engineers Local 39 Pension Plan 65.20%
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SEIU National Industry Pension Fund 65.00%
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Trucking Employees of North Jersey Welfare Fund Inc. Pension Fund 65.00%
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Massachusetts Laborers Pension Fund 64.70%
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California Ironworkers Field Pension Trust 64.50%
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Carpenters Pension Fund of Illinois 64.20%
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Automotive Machinists Pension Plan 63.80%
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NJ Carpenters Pension Fund 63.60%
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The Newspaper Guild International Pension Plan 62.80%
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Minnesota Laborers Pension Fund 62.40%
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Bakery & Confectionery Union & Industry International Pension 62.30%
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Laborers National Pension Fund 62.10%
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Operating Engineers Pension Trust 61.70%
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UFCW Unions and Food Employers Pension Plan of Central Ohio 61.30%
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UFCW Nothern California Joint Pension 61.00%
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Carpenters Pension fund of Western Pennsylvania 60.80%
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Newspaper and Mail Delivers – Publishers Pension Fund 60.50%
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Carpenter Pension Trust for Southern California 60.40%
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BERT Bell Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan 60.00%
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Major League Baseball Players Pension Plan 59.60%
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Sheet Metal Workers Pension Plan of S. CA, Arizona and Nevada 59.50%
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NY District Council of Carpenters Pension Plan 59.30%
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SO CA UFCW Union Joint Pension 58.40%
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National Electrical Benefit Fund 58.20%
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Boilermaker Blacksmith National Pension 58%
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GCIU-Employer Retirement Fund 57.60%
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ILWU-PMA Pension Plan 56.90%
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Masters, Mates & Pilots Pension Plan 56.60%
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Wisconsin Carpenters Pension Fund 56.50%
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Electrical Workers Pension Trust Fund of Local Union 58 55.80%
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Automotive Mechanics Local No. 701 Union Pension Fund 55.60%
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IB of T Union Local 710 Pension 55.60%
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Michigan Laborers Pension Fund 55.30%
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PACE Industry Union-Management Pension Fund 55.20%
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Pipe Fitters Retirement Fund Local 597 55.20%
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Sheet Metal Workers Pension Plan of Northern Calif 55.10%
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Central Pennsylvania Teamsters Defined Benefit Plan 55.10%
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NY Hotel Trades Council and Hotel Association of NYC Pension Fund 55.10%
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Teamsters Joint Council No. 83 of Verginia Pension Fund 54.90%
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National Integrated Group Pension Plan 54.50%
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Plumbers & Pipefitters National Pension 54.50%
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Central Laborers Pension Fund 54.20%
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Iron Workers District Council of Southern Ohio & Vicinity Pension Trust 53.90%
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Carpenters Pension Trust Fund for Northern California 53.70%
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Bricklayers & Trowel Trades International Pension Fund 53.60%
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Western Pennsylvania Teamsters and Employers Pension Plan 53.10%
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Chicago Newspaper Publishers Drivers Union Pension Trust 52.90%
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OE Pension Trust Fund 52.40%
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Indiana State District Council of Laborers & Hod Carriers Pension Fund 51.70%
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NYS Teamsters Conference Pension & Retirement Fund 51.40%
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LIUNA National Industrial Pension Fund 50.30%
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Michigan Carpenters Pension Fund 50.20%
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Twin City Carpenters Pension Fund 50.20%
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Laborers Pension Trust Fund for Northern California 50.00%
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HERE Local 25 and Hotel Association of Washington, DC Pension 49.30%
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Central States SE&SW 48.50%
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Teamsters Pension Trust of Philadelphia and Vicinity 48.50%
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Operating Engineers Local 324 Pension Fund 47.30%
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Laborers District Council of W. PA Pension Fund 46.80%
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Iron Workers Local No. 25 Pension Trust Fund 46.40%
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Local 705 IB of T Pension Trust Fund 46.30%
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Building Service 32B-J Pension Fund 42.30%
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Carpenters Pension Trust Fund Detroit & Vicinity 41.40%
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New England Teamsters & Trucking Industry Pension 40.50%
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FELRA and UFCW Pension Fund 39.80%
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Local 804 I.B.T. and Local 447 IAM UPS Multi-employer Retirement Plan 39.70%
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Sheet Metal Workers National Pension Fund 38.00%

This is the first of a series of posts about Union pensions, and how White House policy is being adapted to save the “arses” of union leaders. Look for more soon.

You Can Find More of Jeff Dunetz’s Writing at his Personal Blog, The Lid

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