Veteran labor executive David Blitzstein has been outspoken and pragmatic in his attempts to solve the underfunding of multiemployer pension schemes. Also called Taft-Hartley plans, these collectively bargained plans have equal union and employer representation on their boards of trustees. In 2007 and 2008, Blitzstein helped design a new type of plan that blends defined contribution and defined benefit schemes. This offering, dubbed the variable defined benefit, has a minimum floor and an adjustable benefit that depends on the performance of its investment portfolio. Two small unions have already adopted it. Washington-based Blitzstein, 59, says he wanted to freeze legacy plans and come up with a future service plan that doesnt have some of the embedded risk of the traditional DB. The Philadelphia-area native, whose extended family was active in the labor movement, oversees pension and health care benefits for multiemployer plans; hes a trustee for six funds that represent a total of 500,000 participants and $15 billion in assets. A longtime collective bargaining negotiator, Blitzstein in 2010 devised a unique pension agreement that merged and restructured benefits in four underfunded United Food and Commercial Workers International Union pensions with Cincinnati-based grocery chain Kroger Co. In 2011, President Obama appointed him to a three-year term on the advisory committee of the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
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