I read with great interest Daniel McGinn's article, "The pension insurance flaw of ERISA" (Other Views, Dec. 13).
I couldn't agree more with Mr. McGinn's statement, "many of the surviving defined benefit plans owe their continued existence to union leadership that stalwartly fought to maintain and improve their plans. Had it not been for them, defined benefit plans, as we have known them, might have become nearly extinct."
No better example of this is the recent PBGC financial statement for fiscal year 2004. The program coverage deficit for single-employer defined benefit plans increased to $23.3 billion. The separate program coverage for multiemployer (union) defined benefit plans posted a net gain of $25 million, for a fiscal year-end deficit of $236 million, compared to a $261 million deficit one year earlier. Yet when the recent congressional session ended, single-employer plans were granted funding relief that would allow more time to fund investment losses, while multiemployer plans were not. Why? Pure and simple: Politics.
Even though it is proven that multiemployer plans are better managed and better funded, Congress only considered the political issue — "we don't want to help union funds." There is nothing more sacred than an individual's health insurance and retirement benefits, and Congress should never allow partisan politics to interfere with assisting multiemployer plans to secure their participants' pension benefits in the same way they have assisted single-employer plans. Ask the employees of Enron if anything is more important than secure retirement benefits.
Central Laborers' Pension Fund