2017 IBEW/NECA Employee Benefits Conference Report
First, I would like to thank Russ and the Membership of IBEW #354 for sending me to the Conference. I have been helping members with retirement applications and questions and this conference allows me to meet with Benefit Administrators and stay as current as possible on these benefits. It was a three-day conference with 14 different sessions covering as many topics. I will just give a very brief overview of each and provide a link to the presentation. Anyone is welcome to contact me with in depth questions.
- AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust Update – Mike Stotz, President and Managing Director, AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust
This is an investment trust that uses Union capital to build Union Projects. Mike gave a report on the Trust and specific jobs that were completed and several that were just beginning using the Fund. The BIT in 2016 closed on, broke ground on, or acquired 14 new properties helping to generate 16 million Union Construction hours in the last three years. Presentation here.
- AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust Video – short 3-minute video presentation of the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust explain what it is. Video download link here.
- Electrical Workers Sav-Rx Prescription Drug Coalition Update – Christy Piti, Chief Executive Officer, Sav-Rx
Christy report gave an overview of the Electrical Industry’s Sav Rx plan. She explained the advantages that members receive using Save Rx. Multiple Cost Analysis were given and explained. The driving trends in the prescription industry were given and discussed in depth. Several Examples of Manufactory Fraud and abuse in the Industry were present along with Sav-Rx solutions. Presentation here.
- IBEW-NECA Equity Index Fund Update – Ron Perrone, Certified Financial Advisor, ASB Capital Management
Ron presented the IBEW-NECA Fund’s history and guiding principles. Comparisons to similar funds and the S&P 500 were shown. Short and long Term goals of the fund were given along with the funds costs and prices. Presentation here.
- Responsible Pension Investing – Tom Croft, Managing Director, Heartland Capital Strategies
Tom gave a brief overview of Pension investing over the last few decades. Showing the amount of capital available in Union Pensions Trust for investment and presented the idea of responsible investment “Responsible investment incorporates environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters into investment decisions, and it aims to better manage risk and generate sustainable, long-term results.” Tom showed how responsible investment is still facing opposition in the United States. He offered these strategies as solutions to the opposition:
- Rebuild our industrial heartland, restore economic security and ensure the integrity of work for all working families.
- Put our money—workers’ capital – to work for the benefit of workers and their beneficiaries.
- Build a united front of unions, employer partners, pensions, responsible investors and communities and stakeholders to make long-term, real economy investments.
Entire presentation here.
- National Electrical 401(k) Plan Presentation – Jim Smizer, Director, IBEW Investment Department
Jim presented the history of the NEFP. It’s a multiemployer 401(k) plan recognized by the IRS and in which the IBEW and NECA are Trustee’s. Jim covered topics ranging from who is eligible and benefits of participation. This is a defined contribution plan. Presentation is here.
- Privacy and Security in the Cyber Age – Stacey Hofert, Vice President of New Business Development and Ben Pauley, Executive Vice President, Zenith American Solutions
Stacey and Ben talked about the potential cyber threats concerning data privacy and security concerns for Benefit Plans. Our plans are targeted because of the type of data required to administer Health and Pension Plans. Members identifying information along with financial data is targeted by cyber criminals. They covered current and upcoming threats and explained best policies and procedures to have in place to protect member data. Entire Presentation is here.
- AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust Update – Lesyllee White, Esq., Executive Vice President and Managing Director, AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust
Presentation was given about the Investment Trusts Objectives, Strategies and historical track record. Since Inception the fund has created 76,900 Union jobs by investing over $10 billion in 470 union projects. Entire Presentation here.
- NEBF/NEAP/FMCP Update – Larry Bradley, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, National Electrical Benefit Fund
Larry covered the NEBF, NEAP, and FMCP for us. Spent time covering membership counts and trends in each fund. Explained differences between the NEBF and NEAP (Defined Benefit vs Defined Contribution). Show financials for all the funds and how healthy they are. Gave historical information on the funds and goals and strategies moving forward. Entire Presentation here.
- Healthcare Update, 2017 – Katie Burch, Attorney; Potts-Dupre, Hawkins, and Kramer, Chartered
Presentation focused on topics surrounding the Affordable Care Act and the Trump Administrations possibly changes. Also, covered Possible GOP replacement plans coming out of Congress in 2017. Recommendations on what to do while waiting for the laws to possibly change. Also, discussed issues surrounding HIPPA enforcement in 2015 and 2016. Presentation here.
- Electronic Reciprocal Transfer System (ERTS) Update – Hugh Roberts, Allen Bates Technology, Inc.
Hugh’s presentation on the IBEW ERT’s system covered activity in the system over the past 12 months. Where most hours were being transferred to and where from. Hugh covered how to enroll in ERT’s and about several system upgrades made over the past year. Questions were asked and updates given on specific IBEW locals trying to remove themselves from ERT’s. This is aa ongoing legal case. Presentation here.
- Retirement System Risk: Influence on Emerging Hybrid Plans – Ken Kent, Consulting Actuary, Cheiron
This presentation in my opinion was the most important one given. Ken Kent first went in depth on pension plans, how they are funded and the inherent risk associated with the defined benefit model. Withdrawal liability and ERISA regulations were also explained in detail. The presentation then covered Defined contribution plans and how they although popular provide no real retirement security. Knowing the problems for our contractors and organizing with defined benefit plans and their withdrawal liabilities another option is becoming available. Hybrid plans, a mix of defined benefit and defined contribution, might be the best solution for certain memberships moving forward. Ken explained several hybrids plans and how they could help our industry. Entire presentation here.
- Legal Update– Shane Kramer, Attorney; Potts-Dupre, Hawkins, and Kramer, Chartered
Presentation focused on 4 main topics
- Status of the IRS Determination Letter Program Rev. Proc. 2016-37
- Recent ERISA Advisory Council Activity
- Proposed Form 5500 Modernization
- Final DOL Regulations – Claims Procedures for ERISA Disability Plans
Entire Presentation here.