JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Three state representatives met with union representatives to discuss a bill that would allow union members who pay into union pension funds to have access to the financial standing of those funds.
Reps. Bill Lant, Holly Rehder and Rob Vescovo believe HB 1540, filed by Vescovo, will allow greater transparency for union members paying into pension funds.
“This is a strong step in the right direction as we look for common ground where we can stand together to protect workers from bankrupt pension funds that will jeopardize their financial security during their retirement years,” Vescovo, R-Arnold, said.
According to the Department of Labor, over 200 unions are currently in critical condition, meaning they have significant funding or liquidity issues. Unions in critical condition may not award lump sum distributions out of their pension and must create plans to rectify their financial problems.
Vescovo added that the union leaders were receptive to this possible change.
“The representatives we met with indicated a willingness to work with us on this issue, which I hope will continue to drive meaningful discussion that will lead to policy changes that will put some effective protections in place for workers who deserve answers,” he said in a statement.
One angle of interest spawns from Lant, Rehder, and Vescovo trying to push this legislation they see as pro-union employee. Lant, Rehder, and Vescovo have all been fierce proponents of right-to-work legislation in the House, using the same kind of language to promote this new bill that they have used to advocate for right-to-work in the past – with a focus on the individual worker, not the union establishment.
“These are reforms that are not anti-union, they benefit the union member 100 percent,” Rehder said, echoing the pro-right-to-work sentiment that right-to-work legislation is meant to benefit workers. Critics of right-to-work concede that while that may be the case, the secondary effects of less union membership caused by right-to-work destabilizes unions and ultimately allows for the disenfranchisement of the workforce.
However, Rehder, Lant, and Vescovo seem eager to engage unions in this process.
“I think and hope this is an issue where the legislature and the unions can be on the same page together so that we can ensure workers know exactly what their retirement benefits look like as they plan for their future,” Rehder continued in a statement.
Lant added that he felt everyone at the meeting, which included members from the Teamsters, Carpenters Union, and AFL-CIO, favored more transparency in pension plans.
“Trying to create a better safer workforce in the state of Missouri is everybody’s job,” he said, adding that he came away from the meeting with a sense that the union representatives “very truly are concerned about their membership.”
Mike Lewis, the president of the AFL-CIO said that the unions had not yet taken a solid position on the legislation however because it is still under review by their legal counsel.