The Dismal Future of Construction Industry Multiemployer Pension Plans

By Ben Brubeck, The Truth About PLAs

Construction unions attempt to entice merit shop craftspeople and new industry entrants into joining a union with promises of generous pension plans. They also convince elected officials in charge of procuring taxpayer-funded projects why union contractors and union workers deserve special treatment through various schemes like government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) because of the public good provided by union pension plans.

However, data continues to show that construction union multiemployer pension plans (MEPPs) are in serious financial trouble, which calls into question the wisdom of elected officials pushing MEPPs onto qualified contractors and craft professionals through PLA mandates.

A new report shining light on the dreadful health of MEPPs for U.S. union workers and retirees estimates such plans are only 52 percent funded, with a $369 billion shortfall (Dan McCrum & Ajay Makan, “US Union Pensions Hole Deepens To $369 Billion,” Financial Times, 4/8/12).

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