Terminated Carpenters Union Managed Pension Annually Resuscitated by PBGC

A black and white photo of graphs and charts.

The U.S. Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration keeps track of “Critical and Declining, Critical, and Endangered” multiemployer pension funds. During 2016, 86 of these labor union dominated plans were in Critical Declining Status, 168 were in Critical Status, and 98 were in Endangered Status.[i] Critical and declining status has ballooned since first being established in 2014.[ii] The number of Critical Declining Status pension plans increased by 62 percent from 2015 to 2016. [iii]

For example, a once underfunded and later failed Carpenter union managed retirement plan, the Buffalo Carpenters Pension Fund[iv] was terminated on January 1, 2002.  The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) poured over $40 million into the fund over the last thirteen years.[v] It has funded the failed pension to tune of about $3 million per year since 2004 according to publicly accessible records.

In 2016, the Carpenters National Headquarters spent $20 million on politics from its forced-dues funded treasury.  To a casual observer, Union Officials might have helped more members directly by using that money to sure up Carpenter union pensions rather than giving it to politicians.

All totaled, Carpenters unions reported to the U.S. Department of Labor that they received $1.1 billion in dues and fees in 2016. [vi]  Certainly, this annual cash flow could have been used to fix the current failing conditions in Carpenters Union-managed Pensions.

Forced unionism through monopoly-bargained union contracts often literally forces people to bet their retirement on union-controlled pension funds.  In many cases, like the Buffalo Carpenters Pension Fund, the compelled retirement fund does not pay out as promised.

[i] Critical, Critical and Declining, and Endangered Multiemployer Pension Plans

[ii] Critical and Declining Status created

[iii] Critical, Critical and Declining, and Endangered Multiemployer Pension Plans

[iv] NOTE: USAspending.gov lists the money received as a loan. On form 5500 submitted to the Department of Labor by the Buffalo Carpenters Pension Fund the money is listed as “funding from PBGC” and is not designated as a loan. This discrepancy has been going on since at least 2009; available records do not go back further.

[v] 5500 Form, EIN code 16-0847280

[vi] LM-2 form data, accessed through Department of Labor