UMW faces pension shortfall
America’s labor union for bituminous coal mining, the UMWA, has a multi-employer pension fund, which is administered by my employer, the UMWA Health & Retirement Funds (a technically independent, not-for-profit organization). Right now, it’s going through some funding issues related to the Great Recession – our pension trust lost 30% of its value since 2007.
While our Executive Director has indicated there is no cause for panic by employees or beneficiaries of the Funds, we do have to look for a way to stabilize our pension fund – one of the few solvent multi-employer plans with a particularly heavy retiree-to-worker ratio (some 12:1).
As the plan has been embraced by the union and management, it seems like a smart thing to do to help aid the aging industry, not to mention making collective bargaining between the two sides a much easier task when the contract expires next year.
We had a similar issue for our health plans in 2006, and everything worked itself out. I have no real concerns about my job or those of my coworkers. But we’ll see.