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Reimagining PensionsThe Next 40 Years$
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Olivia S. Mitchell and Richard C. Shea

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198755449

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198755449.001.0001

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United States Pension Benefit Plan Design Innovation: Labor Unions as Agents of Change

United States Pension Benefit Plan Design Innovation: Labor Unions as Agents of Change

Chapter:
(p.123) Chapter 7 United States Pension Benefit Plan Design Innovation: Labor Unions as Agents of Change
Source:
Reimagining Pensions
Author(s):

David S. Blitzstein

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198755449.003.0007

Labor unions played an historic role creating the occupational pension system in the private and public sectors in the post-World War II era. That system, which was dominated by defined benefit pension plans, is in decline. The transition to a new system is economically and socially painful, and has been accelerated by two financial crises in the past decade. This chapter uses a case study of a private sector union to demonstrate how labor unions can influence the renegotiation of the pension contract for American workers. The case study describes how one union evaluated the pension crisis from a sustainability viewpoint, and responded proactively by developing a hybrid pension plan that attempted to align the interests of all stakeholders through equitable risk sharing. The hybrid plan developed by this union eventually had a broader influence on the pension community at large and the public policy debate around the pension crisis.

Keywords:   labor unions, pension crisis, pension contract, hybrid plans, variable defined benefit plan, sustainable pension

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