Employee Benefits and Representation of Taft-Hartley Trust Funds
Beeson Tayer & Bodine has represented labor-management pension and health plans since the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which established jointly-trusteed funds. We were among the first union-side firms to develop a specialized employee benefits practice in the wake of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Today, a significant portion of our firm’s practice is devoted to the representation of multiemployer trust funds and we represent numerous health and pension funds sponsored by the Teamsters and other unions. In light of the importance of collections and bankruptcy to our benefit fund clients, our practice includes a collection and bankruptcy specialist.
Even though our firm represents unions and employees in labor and employment matters, we are proud to have earned the trust and confidence of both labor and management trustees. While we serve as union co-counsel with management co-counsel on some funds, we are the sole trust counsel for most of the labor-management funds we represent. We have maintained the confidence of both labor and management trustees because:
- Our experience as labor lawyers who deal with collective bargaining brings to our benefits practice a broad understanding of the world in which labor and management trustees work and of the place of the trust fund in that world.
- We give clear, practical, real world advice and view our primary role as helping trustees navigate their way through the thicket of benefits administration by making their choices – and the possible consequences of those choices – as clear as possible.
- Rather than simply reciting the details of new laws and regulations generally applicable to benefit plans, we summarize the critical “need to know” points in plain language and tell trustees how they impact their fund.
- We pride ourselves as “straight shooters” who, in our role as fund counsel, do not attempt to pursue the agenda of either labor or management to the detriment of the other.
While much of our benefits work is performed on behalf of traditional, labor-management benefit plans, our attorneys have been instrumental in the creation of innovative pension and health plans. The multi-union Supplemental Income 401(k) Plan is a participant-directed investment plan that has grown to over $500 million in assets since its inception in 1999. Our firm has helped several private and public sector health fund clients establish prefunded retiree health plans. We have also counseled our health fund clients on the implementation of consumer-driven health initiatives – such as health savings accounts, health reimbursement accounts and wellness programs – within multiemployer funds. As economic realities continue to pressure bargaining parties, we are ready to explore innovations with our clients and to develop alternatives to traditional benefit plan design.
General Benefits Advice to Unions and Individuals
In addition to our representation of labor-management trust funds, we assist our private and public sector labor union clients on a wide range of employee benefit matters. We regularly advise business agents and members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the California Teachers Association (CTA) on issues related to public sector pension and health plans, including CalSTRS and CalPERS. As state, county and municipal governments seek to reduce budget deficits by reducing or eliminating promised retirement benefits, our union clients representing public employees, and retirees from the public sector, turn to us to enforce their right to receive their pension and other post-employment benefits obligations, including retiree health benefits.
We also assist individual employees with benefit claims against non-union benefit plans and insurance companies. Please contact one of our offices for a consultation.