Pennsylvania residents can only hope that Keith Naughton is completing his doctorate in something other than consulting our politicians in pension reform (“False Pension Promises: Municipal Workers Should Let Go of the Defined-Benefit Pension Mirage,” Dec. 22 Forum). While he mentions everyone except his own profession (consultant for the Republican Party) as a reason that municipal pensions have failed, there are numerous others.
When I was an elected trustee of Plumbers Local 27’s pension plan we relied on the expertise of professionals to advise us on proper fiduciary responsibility. The financial advisers, actuarial experts, attorneys, bankers, fund administrators and, yes, consultants are all paid handsomely to advise the trustees on professional stewardship of their pension plan.
Many of our parents today are living comfortably because of defined pension plans administered by the unions. If we run them the way they were designed, their benefits outweigh the alternative of just 401(k) plans.
If you want to fix the unfunded liability of municipal pension plans, require term limits of all politicians. This would eliminate decisions based on solely being re-elected and require them to be participants in that pension plan. Then let the unions jointly administer the pension plans with politicians who represent the taxpayers. This will ensure that retirees won’t have to depend on other social services to survive.
Every American deserves to retire with dignity. Defined pension plans have proved, when properly managed, to provide those benefits.
THOMAS G. BIGLEY
The writer is director of plumbing, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters of the United States, Canada and Australia.