Private Pensions: Multiemployer Plans Face Short- and Long-Term Challenges

GAO-04-423 Published: Mar 26, 2004. Publicly Released: Mar 26, 2004.
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Multiemployer-defined benefit pension plans, which are created by collective bargaining agreements covering more than one employer and generally operated under the joint trusteeship of labor and management, provide coverage to over 9.7 million of the 44 million participants insured by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). The recent termination of several large single-employer plans--plans sponsored by individual firms--has led to millions of dollars in benefit losses for thousands of workers and left PBGC, their public insurer, an $11.2 billion deficit as of September 30, 2003. The serious difficulties experienced by these single-employer plans have prompted questions about the health of multiemployer plans. This report provides the following information on multiemployer pension plans: (1) trends in funding and worker participation, (2) PBGC's role regarding the plans' financial solvency, and (3) potential challenges to the plans' long-term prospects.

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