National Pension Plan Success Stories

This page presents several case studies on organizations that have successfully introduced the Fund and its benefits to employees.

Contact the Fund's Education and Communication Department at 800-424-9608 or email education@iamnpf.org to learn more about the Fund, the National Pension Plan and the steps you need to take to join the Fund and offer plan benefits to your employees.

Jump down this page to:

  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport: A unique service contract with multiple employers features wall-to-wall participation in the IAM National Pension Fund.
  • Penske Truck Leasing: A name-brand global transportation services provider recognized the value of the National Pension Plan.
  • Commodore Home Systems, Inc: A merged pension, relieving a company's pension hassles and improving benefits for participants, in one easy step.
  • Motor Coach Industries: After a previous attempt falls short, careful preparation the second time out carries the day.
  • Bard Manufacturing: First time's a charm—success in negotiating the National Pension Plan on the initial try.
  • Allen-Mitchell & Co.: Steady increases in contribution rates yield enviable pension benefits.

Cape Canaveral Spaceport

A unique service contract with multiple employers features wall-to-wall participation in the IAM National Pension Fund

Space Gateway Support (SGS) is a venture formed in 1998 to manage what is called the Joint Base Operation Support Contract, or J-BOSC, at Cape Canaveral Spaceport, which comprises Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base. In the words of the SGS company motto, "We don't launch spacecraft, but they don't launch without us."

The J-BOSC (pronounced jay-bosh) has a couple of interesting points of distinction. The "joint" in its title refers to NASA and the Air Force, and this contract marked the first time these two separate federal agencies jointly granted a single base support contract for the Space Center and Air Force facilities under the Cape Canaveral Spaceport umbrella.

Space Gateway Support and its principal subcontractors are contributing employers to the IAM National Pension Fund.

District Lodge 166 Business Representative Johnny Walker, who holds negotiating responsibilities for these companies, says, "The benefit to the companies is that the pension expenses are an effortless 'pass-through' to the federal agencies. Everyone along the chain realizes that the pension contributions represent excellent value and security. For the employers, it's a feather in their cap that their people have good, no-trouble pensions, and that NASA and the Air Force take note of it."

In addition to SGS whose IAM-represented employees provide mechanical, electrical, and maintenance support, the main subcontracts include:

  • Creative Management Technology: Vehicle operations and maintenance, mail service, HVAC, structures
  • Wyle Laboratories: Propellant and laboratory management; separately, Wyle also subcontracts to the United Space Alliance, a contractor to the Shuttle Program at Kennedy Space Center
  • Yang Enterprises: Maintenance, road and grounds
  • Comprehensive Health Services: Clinic and medical services
  • InDyne: Administrative services, information technology systems

Two other companies, Wiltech and L-3 Communications, are contributing employers to the IAM National Pension Fund but not participants in the J-BOSC. Wiltech engages in hands-on chemical engineering and analysis for Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Program, and L-3 Communications specializes in systems engineering at Patrick Air Force Base.

All told, over 900 IAM members at these Cape Canaveral Spaceport companies are earning secure, guaranteed pensions under the National Pension Plan.

Each company has a separate collective bargaining agreement, and each has its own labor-relations department so negotiating duties for Business Representative Johnny Walker are extensive. A further complication is that several of the subcontract companies have their own subcontracts—different groups requiring independent handling. Yet, to the extent possible and appropriate, negotiation efforts are leveraged across all the agreements.

"We handle them all at the same time," Johnny says. "SGS controls the purse strings. We try to simplify the process with common structure and language, so you only have to get those details out of the way once. The contract holders can change from time to time, but with everyone flying in the same direction, new players are no big deal."

What is a big deal is that this pension is perceived across the board by labor and management as an invaluable benefit. For the participants, it's the best pension deal going. Among many other benefits, it gives participants the ability to move from one contractor to another while continuing to earn pension benefits. For the union, it's a useful organizing tool. And, it's a big plus for the contracting employers, who know the contribution costs are seen as good investments by their federal customers.

Another big plus for participants: over the years, as different companies hold these service contracts the line-up shifts. But, when you as a participant are in the plan, you can stay in the plan even if your employer's status as contract holder (or subcontractor) changes.

Alfred C. Nelson, who is involved at Kennedy Space Center, and an Employer Trustee of the IAM National Pension Fund, reinforces this point. "For the employer, this isn't a hard decision. Getting secure benefits for your participating employees and solid value for your pension dollar speak for themselves. As an employer and a Trustee, I've seen that the effort and expertise of the people at the IAM National Pension Fund are ultimately on behalf of the participants. The bottom line is, it's the employee who will benefit, and everyone is working as one to make that happen."

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Penske Truck Leasing

A name-brand global transportation services provider recognizes the value of the National Pension Plan.

Penske Truck Leasing is a big mover in its field (pun intended). This major player in commercial truck leasing is co-owned by The Penske Corporation, a closely held diversified transportation firm founded by racecar legend Roger Penske, in partnership with GE Capital.

Headquartered in Reading, Pennsylvania, Penske Truck Leasing is an industry leader operating more than 145,000 vehicles from worldwide locations, with annual revenues of $3.4 billion. It offers full-service leasing, commercial and consumer rental, contract maintenance, transportation and distribution management, and integrated logistics.

This nationally known company is also, we're proud to say, a long-time contributing employer to the IAM National Pension Fund. Participants in the National Pension Plan work in Penske Truck Leasing locations in 13 states.

At least one of those locations even predates the company itself. IAM members at the Penske Truck Leasing facility in Pittsburgh's Neville Island have been participants in the National Pension Plan since 1963, several years before a change in ownership brought the shop into the Penske fold. Veteran IAM members from those years—there are still a few on the job—have seen their employer contribution rate grow from 10 cents per hour in 1963 to $3.15 per hour in 2003.

Todd Fichera, the District Lodge 83 Business Representative with negotiating duties for the Neville Island Penske shop, notes that this long history has its advantages. "We have a good working relationship with them," Todd says. "Our employees do a good job for them and they appreciate it. They don't hide that."

While dealing with a huge company or distant ownership can be a business representative's headache, things are generally more agreeable with this particular employer. Tom Verne, a Local Lodge 701 Business Representative with negotiating responsibility for a 10-location general agreement with Penske Truck Leasing in the Chicago area says, "Communicating with this company is easy. We have local management here on the negotiating team, working with a company labor relations representative. They're comfortable with the idea of participating in plans like these." Even better, Tom says, "They know this plan for what it is, a very good benefit. They look at it as being an extremely good deal."

Bill Stacy, former Business Representative at District Lodge 711 in Nashville, concurs. "There's no problem negotiating with them. It's the easiest one I have. They have a positive regard for their employees, and let you know they're not interested in drawing things out."

Contribution rates at the various Penske Truck Leasing facilities nationwide are locally determined, and thus vary widely. But, whether it says something about the company, or the participants—or most likely both—regular contribution rate increases are a common element in many of the nationwide Penske Truck Leasing contracts—not just at contract time, but annually. As Todd Fichera says, "The more you put in, and the sooner you put it in, the more you benefit. This is what it's all about."

Fast Facts About Penske Truck Leasing and the IAM National Pension

  • Currently, more than 650 IAM members nationwide work in Penske Truck Leasing locations and participate in the National Pension Plan.
  • 24 separate collective bargaining agreements cover these participants—that's 24 and counting.
  • These agreements are located in 13 states.

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Commodore Home Systems, Inc

A merged pension, relieving a company's pension hassles and improving benefits for participants, in one easy step.

Commodore Home Systems, Inc. of Clarion, Pennsylvania, has been a National Pension Plan contributing employer since 1995. Some 350 machinists employed by Commodore and by Colony Factory Crafted Homes, its subsidiary company in Shippenville, Pennsylvania can look forward to the secure, guaranteed pension benefits that the National Pension Plan provides its participants.

Since bargaining the Commodore/Colony members into the National Pension Plan at a starting contribution rate of $.40 per hour in 1995, former DBR John Roberts of District Lodge 83 has negotiated annual rate increases that take the contribution rate to $1.10 per hour in 2003. As John says, "We've way more than doubled their pension benefit since 1995, and that's even before you look at their company pension."

That company pension is where things get interesting. Commodore, a builder of manufactured housing, approached John in 1999 about merging the company's pension plan into the IAM National Pension Fund. As John recalls it, they wanted out of the pension business. Getting out from under the administrative stuff was really important to them.

Merging a company plan into the National Pension Plan saves employers time, money, and bother. With the IAM National Pension Fund as sole pension provider, a company's regulatory obligations are eliminated and its administrative efforts and expenses are lightened. As Commodore wished to do, a company can focus on its core competencies rather than on paperwork.

When the Commodore Corporation Hourly Employees Pension Plan merged into the IAM National Pension Fund effective August 1, 1999, all this was accomplished. But, the plan participants had their own reasons for feeling good about the merger. They were guaranteed their earned benefits under the company plan, which paid $15 per month per year of service. In addition, with the merger of Commodore's plan into the Fund, they received enhanced benefits for service earned prior to the merger date.

John Roberts explained how it worked. "At the time of the merger, the Commodore plan was overfunded. The employer agreed that the overfunding would be used by the IAM National Pension Fund to provide enhanced future service benefits. This translated to an additional $3.31 per month under the National Pension Plan for each full year of future service, starting with Commodore's original 1995 contribution date, for pensions effective after the 1999 plan merger."

By the time of the merger, John says, "Everybody already knew the solid value of the National Pension Plan. They knew this would be a great thing for them. And, they were relieved that down the line, the National Pension Plan would be the only one they would have to apply to for their benefits."

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Motor Coach Industries

After a previous attempt falls short, careful preparation the second time out carries the day.

William "Bill" Gooder, former business representative for District Lodge W3, should be a proud man. After previous attempts failed, he successfully negotiated two contracts, bringing some 730 employees of Motor Coach Industries in Pembina, North Dakota, into the National Pension Plan.

Instead of being overly proud, Gooder is a man with ready advice and much insight into the bargaining process. He overcame a number of negotiating and contract issues with thorough research, long-term preparation and careful teamwork with the Fund Office.

Gooder recalls the earlier attempt to bring Motor Coach employees under the National Pension Plan umbrella. "During the first try, in 1995, some employees were more interested in having a 401(k) plan. This time, people realized the difference between defined benefit pension plans and 401(k) defined contribution saving plans. 401(k) plans are iffy. If the stock market goes up, you might make something, but there are no guarantees. People know exactly what they will get from the National Pension Plan when they retire."

It took some work to turn those attitudes around. Almost two years before the previous contract expired, Gooder enlisted the services of the Fund Office's Ruby Naas and Linda Scearce, both now retired, who helped him in conducting meetings, meeting one-on-one with employees and distributing brochures. "We scheduled mass meetings with all departments and all shifts," Gooder says. "We did a lot of education."

Before negotiations began, Gooder sent the Fund Office information to help them determine that the National Pension Plan could provide better benefits for the money than the company was providing. 

With his careful preparation, Gooder built employee consensus on the National Pension Plan and was able to convey that information confidently to the company. As a result, Motor Coach's employees joined the National Pension Plan.

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Bard Manufacturing

First time's a charm: Success in negotiating the National Pension Plan on the initial try.

Bard Manufacturing, of Bryan, Ohio, makes air conditioning units and furnaces for both industrial and residential use. As with many small companies that offer their own defined benefit pension plans to their employees, Bard's pension benefits weren't quite what they could be. Paul Hiltabidel, former business representative at IAM District Lodge 57, knew that the company's 120 employees could do better than the $17 per month per year of service that the company's pension provided.

Six months before negotiations, Hiltabidel contacted the office of the IAM National Pension Fund. By providing data to the Fund Office he was able to get precise comparisons between what the company plan offered and what the National Pension Plan could provide. Hiltabidel also determined that in addition to its stronger benefits, the National Pension Plan's eligibility requirements were easier to meet than the company's plan.

In December of 1996, the Fund Office's Ruby Naas and Linda Scearce—retired Assistant Fund Director and retired Fund Representative, respectively—sat down with Hiltabidel to help him present the facts and figures to Bard's management. They built a strong case for the National Pension Plan, based on the Fund's ability to make Bard's pension dollar go further, benefiting both the company and its employees. Bard ultimately accepted. It was the first time the National Pension Plan had been proposed.

The company froze the benefits in their pension plan, and the employees negotiated an initial contribution rate of $.35 per hour. As of January 1, 2003, the employer contribution rate went to $.70 per hour. At this rate, employees will receive a monthly normal pension benefit of $59.84 for each year of future service credit—more than 3 times the $17 per month per year that employees could expect under their old pension plan.

"Well before negotiations begin, you have to build a solid case with facts and figures," says representative Hiltabidel. "And you should be prepared to bring the National Pension Plan to the table."

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Allen-Mitchell & Co.

Steady increases in contribution rates yield enviable pension benefits.

Allen-Mitchell & Co. is a small machine shop in the District of Columbia. When it comes to pension benefits, its employees know a good thing when they see one. They also know how to make a good thing even better.

Allen-Mitchell has been a contributing employer to the National Pension Plan since 1962. At a substantial number of the contract renewals in the 36 years since the company joined the Fund, the union has successfully negotiated increases in the employer's contribution rate to the National Pension Plan. As of September, 2001, the company's contribution rate is $5.60 per hour. This rate provides a normal pension benefit of $318.79 per month per year of future service.

According to business representative Rick Compher, the high rate and steady increases are because the employees make their wishes clear at proposal meetings prior to contract negotiations: "We always have unity on a pension increase. They're always pre-sold on the pension."

Compher speculates that the employees' average age (35) and length of service (12 years) may have something to do with the group's attitude about the pension. "A group like that is going to have a pretty mature view of the future."

Another factor is the National Pension Plan itself. "Our pension is one of the soundest known to man. Employees just have to look at the figures. Plus, the improvements that the Fund kicks in every year or so help make the case," Compher says.

With their robust contribution rate and long history of negotiating increases, these participants can look forward to pensions that are the envy of any American worker.

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  • IAMNPF Image

Keith Irestone—City of St. Paul
LL737—St. Paul, MN
Plan Participant

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

Is the IAM National Pension Fund a part of the IAMAW Union?

The IAM National Pension Fund is a separate entity from the IAMAW Union. While the National Pension Plan is funded by contributing employers, it was created for the sole benefit of IAM members who have negotiated the plan into their collective bargaining agreements.

Is participation in the plan limited to IAM members?

No. Companies with participating IAM members can include other collectively bargained and certain non-union or special-class employees in the plan.

Does any portion of union dues go toward this plan?

No. Negotiated employer contributions fund the plan.

How is the plan funded?

The plan is funded through employer contributions and earnings on investments.

Why is there a joint Board of Trustees?

The National Pension Plan is a joint labor-management multiemployer pension plan. It is legally required to have representation by both IAM leaders and contributing employers.

What do you mean when you say that benefits are "portable"?

If you are a participant of the National Pension Plan, and you go to work for another employer who also contributes to the National Pension Plan, you continue to accrue benefits under the plan.

Can a company of any size join the National Pension Plan?

Yes. The plan covers members from companies of any size, from one member to thousands of members.

How can I get more information about the National Pension Plan?

You can contact the IAM National Pension Fund Office directly to get more information about the plan.

How can I find the current table of contribution rates and benefit values?

You can view the contribution rate tables here.

What is the current range of employer contribution rates?

Contribution rates range from $0.10 to $28.50 per hour.

What is the average employer contribution rate?

The current average contribution rate is $1.95 per hour.

Can I make contributions to the plan on my own behalf?

The IAM National Pension Fund is a multi-employer non-contributory Trust Fund. Only employer contributions made in accordance with the IAM Collective Bargaining Agreement or Special Class Participation Agreement with the Trustees may be accepted by the Fund. All employer contributions and Fund assets, from whatever source, are pooled and used to pay pension benefits.

What is the benefit of having some Trustees representing employers and some representing the IAM?

Multiemployer joint labor-management pension plans are required to have an equal number of Trustees from labor or the union, and management or the employers. The reason for this is to ensure that both sides are fairly represented and that participants are always the primary focus of the Fund.

What states have the greatest number of contributing employers to the Fund?

They are, in order: 1) Illinois; 2) California; 3) Ohio.

Does the National Pension Plan have contributing employers in every state?

There are only a few states that do not have contributing employers.

How does portability of benefits between contributing employers work?

If you change jobs and go to work for an employer who also contributes to the National Pension Plan without incurring a permanent break-in-service, your years of vesting and credited service follow you to your new job and you can continue to accrue benefits.

As an employer, why should I give up the control and flexibility I have with my current pension plan?

Many employers prefer to keep control of their company's pension plan so they can opt to fund the plans on a year-by-year basis. Obviously, during strong investment periods it may not be necessary to contribute to your plan. But, this short-term flexibility can lead to greater pension costs for your company over the long haul. Your contributions to the National Pension Plan are fixed and predictable over the life of the contract, protecting you from the potential volatility of year-by-year funding. Making steady contributions to the Fund is likely to represent better value—for you and your employees. You can focus on your business, comfortable in the knowledge that we are handling your pension-related matters—and handling them well.

My advisors say the National Pension Plan is a bad idea!

We are always glad to address employers' concerns about the Fund. We welcome the chance to respond to questions from the professionals who serve you. We want to make sure there are no misconceptions about our plan. We have a track record of providing solid benefits, often better than those a single-employer plan can provide. When you compare our costs and benefits, you will see that the National Pension Plan is a good proposition.

As an employer, why should I switch to the National Pension Plan when we already administer a company pension plan?

Two reasons to switch to the National Pension Plan are that we offer secure lifetime retirement benefits and we administer the plan for you. Employers who adopt the National Pension Plan after terminating their own plans or by merging their plans into the National Pension Plan will find we can save them time and money. For example, if you have the IAM National Pension Fund as your sole pension provider, you don't have to worry about regulatory compliance. You can focus on your business, comfortable in the knowledge that we are handling your pension-related matters—and handling them well.

As an employer, why would I get involved with a union-affiliated pension plan?

The Fund exists to provide pension benefits to IAM members, but the Fund is legally independent from the union. It is a separate entity managed by an active Board of Trustees composed of members of both labor and management. Employers have an equally strong vote in the Fund’s management.

Our trustees set policy and investment strategy. That strategy is based on thorough research and analysis and expert advice from some of the most trusted names on Wall Street and nationwide. The IAM National Pension Fund has a sound investment approach and a  record of more than 50 years of unblemished integrity.

Why not give workers the flexibility of a defined contribution or 401(k) plan?

We recognize the value of a 401(k) plan as a supplement to a defined benefit pension plan like the National Pension Plan. Our own IAM National 401(k) Plan is evidence of that. But, unlike a 401(k) plan, the secure benefits provided by the National Pension Plan can't be used for any purpose other than retirement. With the National Pension Plan, the money is there for retirement, no matter what, for life.

401(k) balances are exposed to market fluctuations, as recent years have made painfully clear. Workers may borrow from 401(k) accounts or cash them out when they change jobs. In fact, a large percentage of 401(k) plans have loans outstanding, and huge numbers of 401(k) participants cash out when they change jobs. For workers, a secure defined benefit like ours can take the worry out of long-term financial planning.

Will any employees lose their existing vested benefits in my company plan if I switch to the IAM National Pension Fund?

An employee's vested benefits belong to the employee—that's what vesting means. When a company becomes a contributing employer to the IAM National Pension Fund, its employees' status as participants in the National Pension Plan has no impact on vested benefits in the company's own plan. And, vesting service in the company plan counts in the National Pension Plan for vesting and some eligibility purposes.

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