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The World of Multiemployer Benefit Funds Podcast
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The World of Multiemployer Benefit Funds Podcast

Author: Traci Dority-Shanklin

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Perhaps you've heard about pension reform on the news? Multiemployer benefit funds provide retirement, paid sick leave, vacation, and other paid benefits to millions of middle and working-class Americans and retirees, but these funds are complex. Join Traci Dority-Shanklin, the client and union advocate with over 20 years of managing Taft-Hartley funds, as she navigates the complex world of Taft-Hartley and speaks with the experts who help guide these plans. Guests will share the latest developments, their personal stories, and their perspectives as they help unlock the mysteries of these funds.
30 Episodes
The union brotherhood and sisterhood are committed to more than its own membership. When 9/11 happened, the Teamsters mobilized truckloads of cell phones and radios to rescue workers. Elizabeth Murray-Belcaster, the CEO of EMB Consultants who consults on training to placement programs with the Department of Defense and trade unions, rejoins the podcast. Elizabeth shares how the brotherhood and the sisterhood have impacted diversity, three presidential administrations, and the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge program.Some highlights from Union Matters: The Brotherhood & the Sisterhood include:02:01 – Will the Welder06:38 – Industry Stakeholders and Millennials11:07 – Obama, Trump, and Biden…14:26 – The Only Woman in the Room19:50 – Union Proud: The Teamsters!
Labor unions provide workers with better wages and safer workplaces, but did you also know that they train transitioning military veterans in career pathways for civilian life? Our next guest develops and implements veteran training to placement programs with the Department of Defense and labor unions. The CEO of EMB Consultants, Elizabeth Murray-Belcaster, shares her experiences with the DOD’s SkillBridge program and why more organized labor should invest in these programs.Some highlights from Union Matters: Veterans Training Programs include:01:48 – Getting Endorsements06:26 – Transition is a Culture!11:45 – Nothing Happens in a Vacuum14:57 – Why Aren’t We Doing These Programs Everywhere?18:44 – Case Studies: the Teamsters and Utility Workers of America25:45 – The DOD’s SkillBridge Program
You may know that union workers make more money than non-union workers, but did you know that 92% of union workers have a guaranteed pension compared to only 68% of non-union workers? Liz Shuler, the secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, joins Traci on the podcast to discuss the future of defined benefit plans, the union brand, and busting her favorite myths about organized labor.Some highlights from The Value of Union Membership with Liz Shuler include:01:46 – Understanding the Value of Union Membership06:29 – The Future of Defined Benefit Plans09:30 – The Pension Model Evolves13:38 – Union Myth-Busting16:55 – The Digital Revolution and Union Innovation22:06 – Racial Justice and a Blueprint for Change
Did you know that the labor movement is the largest organization of working women in the nation? On December 11, 1961, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr told the AFL-CIO, “The two most dynamic and cohesive liberal forces in the country are the labor movement and the Negro Freedom movement. Together, we can be architects of democracy.” Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, joins Traci on the podcast to talk about how the labor movement and the AFL-CIO are supporting women, minorities, and the next generation of workers.Some highlights from Meet the AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer, Liz Shuler include:03:01 – Liz’s Journey to the AFL-CIO07:55 – “Women of Steel”12:03 – Union Favorability and Goodwill towards Labor Unions15:40 – Let’s Pass the PRO-Act!18:02 – Biden’s Interagency Task Force21:09 – Next Step and the Young Worker
Companies like Amazon, Uber, Doordash, and Lyft have big advantages against organized labor. Larry Williams Jr, the founder of Unionbase and a former co-founder of the Progressive Workers Union, returns to the podcast. He explains what elements are needed to run a successful union election campaign and the need for gig workers to have a voice at the bargaining table.Some highlights from Amazon and the Future of the Gig Economy with Larry Williams Jr include:01:53 – Assessing the Amazon Union Vote07:17 – Millennials and the Pension Issue11:45 – Are the Concerns of Millennials Being Addressed?16:30 – President Biden and the PRO-Act23:56 – The Unseen Plight of the Gig Worker
Support for unions is at an all-time high across the country with 65% in favor! Three-quarters of new union memberships belong to Millennials and Gen Z. Larry Williams Jr., the founder of Unionbase, the nation’s first social media platform designed for labor, is Traci’s guest, and he’s here to tell us all about Unionbase and the role it plays for the next generation of labor organizers.Some highlights from UnionBase and Organizing the Next Generation include:01:10 – Larry’s Labor Journey07:35 – Labor and Management are not Always Contentious10:58 – UnionBase.org17:04 – Millennials and White-Collar Organizing22:04 – But... What About College?Visit, the first social media platform designed for the labor movement.
On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. Most of it was stimulus spending designed to rescue the economy from the coronavirus pandemic, but did you also know that it provides $86 billion for 10.7 million workers in 185 pension funds? Michael Scott, the director of the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans, explains what this rescue means for these troubled pension plans and the retirees they serve.Some highlights from The American Rescue Plan with NCCMP Director include:01:22 – The Role of the NCCMP04:14 – The Timeline of Pension Reform10:27 – Low-Interest Loans or Partitions?15:11 – The Purpose of the American Rescue Plan19:34 – The Cost of Doing NothingIf you'd like to read the PDF file of The American Rescue Plan, please visit:  www.congress.govOr check out the NCCMP website:
Coronavirus has disrupted mental health services in countries from all over the globe. Fear, isolation, loss of income and life have triggered mental health conditions and exacerbated existing ones in workers and families across the country. Janis DiMonaco, Ph.D., the founder of HMC HealthWorks, and Dr. Stephanie Straeter, the clinical director of Behavioral Health and Wellness at HMC HealthWorks, join Traci to talk about the mental stresses labor faces during a global pandemic and the need for mental healthcare, behavioral coaching, and patient advocacy.Some highlights from Mental Health “Help” Care in the Age of Covid include:02:03 – Marrying Our Passion with What We Do05:49 – The HMC HealthWorks Approach to Healthcare08:21 – Mental Stresses Labor Faces during a Global Pandemic14:38 – That Personal Touch and Teletherapy18:57 – Coaching: Not Everyone Needs Therapy 24:39 – How Do We Find These Resources?Visit the HMC HealthWorks website:
The labor and trust market presents any company with a unique set of needs and challenges for servicing their industry. Tera Clizbe, the vice president of Labor and Trust at Blue Shield of California, joins Traci on the podcast to discuss the changing needs of labor, the challenges they face with their healthcare, and how the community came together during a global pandemic.Some highlights from The Labor and Trust Community with Tera Clizbe include:03:22 – Aligned values with the Labor community06:22 – A crazy year dealing with Covid10:22 – Are trust funds thinking differently about healthcare?17:58 – Access to affordable healthcare21:57 – Leading the way in diversity, equity, and inclusionIf you're a union member and want to learn more about the Labor & Trust team at Blue Shield of California, visit their website:
A handful of past guests help Traci summarize the pension crisis, recount the events that led us here and highlight the solutions making the rounds in Congress. Traci’s guests are Jason Russell, senior vice president and actuary from Segal Consulting; Russell Kamp, blogger, pension reform advocate, and managing director at Ryan ALM; Jack Marco, retired chairman of Marco Consulting; and John Elliot, a partner at New England Pension Consultants.Some highlights from The ABCs of the Pension Crisis:00:37 – 130 Plans in Crisis!02:59 – How Did We Get Here?07:38 – Partitions and the PBGC09:59 – The “Goofiness” of MPRA14:12 – Two Different Pension Reform Proposals27:03 – Some Final Thoughts on Pension Reform…Show highlights are compiled from past podcasts only available at
The Central States Pension Fund (CSPF) serves 400,000 workers and retirees and is expected to become insolvent by 2025. Before the coronavirus pandemic, 130 plans were projected to run out of money over the next two decades, but now that number threatens to climb even higher. How did we get here? Who’s to blame? Will the new Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress act on much-needed pension reform? Taft-Hartley Consultant of the Year and partner at New England Pension Consultants, John Elliot, joins Traci on the podcast to help answer some of these pressing questions. Some highlights from The Pension Crisis: How We Got Here include:01:27 – From Weiss, Peck & Greer to NEPC04:37 – The “Perfect Storm” of the 1990s and 2000s07:52 – The Dreaded MPRA Cuts09:43 – Why Pension Reform is Both a Democratic and a Republican Issue11:17 – Variable Defined Benefit Plans13:22 – The Mathematics of Hybrid Plans18:43 – Dismantling the Fears of Hybrid Plans20:47 – Union Membership and Millennials29:38 – Macro Economy and the Price of DebtIf you'd like to learn more about New England Pension Consultants, visit their website:
Before the pandemic, 130 defined benefit plans were in danger of insolvency, but now that number has jumped to 200. Pension reform is needed more than ever, and the new Congress must act! Traci talks to retired Marco Consulting Chairman, Jack Marco, about pension reform, the new Congress, and some possible paths forward for these troubled plans.Some highlights from Pension Reform and the New Congress include:01:33 - A Way Forward for Pension Reform?04:40 - Defend and Protect Worker Benefits – Not the PBGC!07:41 – Government Bonds and the Butch-Lewis Act10:42 – What About These Hybrid Plans?13:33 – Testifying Before the House in 201015:39 – Democracy is a Verb!
Traci chats with retired CEO of Marco Consulting, Jack Marco, about his humble Chicago roots; his work with Senator Abner Mikva, and the founding of the Mikva Challenge. The Mikva Challenge launched its pilot program in the 1998-99 school year. Now, the Mikva Challenge transforms over 50,000 young people across three states with a curriculum of civics coupled with leadership skills and political participation.Some highlights from "Democracy is a Verb" include:01:30 – The Humble Beginning03:50 – Meeting Abner Mikva06:39 – The Mikva Challenge Begins…09:53 – Mikva Challenge and the 2020 Election13:33 – “Project Soapbox”15:23 – Being Aggressive About Diversity22:01 – Mikva Challenge Success Stories24:56 – “Chicago Wears Condoms”If you'd like to learn more about the Mikva Challenge, please visit their website:
Established in 1987, Roberts and Ryan became the first service-disabled, veteran-owned broker-dealer in the country. Roberts and Ryan president, Brian Rathjen, joins Traci Dority-Shanklin on the podcast to chat about his passions from supplier-diversity to helping the veteran community and Year Up, an inner-city youth mentoring program.Some episode highlights included:The First Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Broker-Dealer in the CountryBoulder Crest RetreatA Crucible of DiversityMaking Strides in Wealth ManagementYear Up: The Inner-City Youth and Internship ProgramCreating Pipelines of OpportunityPSDs: Poor, Smart, and DeterminedOMWI: The Office of Minority and Women Inclusion and the RFPIf you'd like to learn more about YearUp or Roberts and Ryan, check out their websites:  www.yearup.orgRoberts and Ryan
Former NFL running back and current president of the AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation, Randy Kinder joins host, Traci Dority-Shanklin, for the second part of their conversation. In this episode,  they discuss supplier-diversity and how the Investment Trust Corporation builds diverse partnerships as the country grapples with police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.Some episode highlights include:The ITC Approach to Building Diverse PartnershipsCompany Push-Back: MeritocracyBreaking Barriers: A Sports MetaphorConversations Matter!Representation Matters: The Pathway ForwardPeople Will ListenA Few Final Thoughts
Former NFL running back and current president of the AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation, Randy Kinder joins Traci to discuss the flurry of inclusion statements issued by financial companies and why they’re important in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.The Randy Kinder Story: The Road to ITCRemembering Who We Work ForThe Race Conversation IntensifiesHow Can Companies Achieve More DiversityAre Corporate Inclusion Statements Enough?Accountability: When Companies Fail
Diversity, equity, and inclusion expert, Nicole Lee, joins Traci Dority-Shanklin for the third and final installment of their conversation about talking to your kids about racism, Black Lives Matter, and the controversies around "skin tone agnosticism."01:08 - Teaching Children About Race03:16 - Being Polite: Growing Up in a Post-Civil Rights Society05:03 - How Children Pick-up Meaning08:51 - Skin Tone Agnosticism12:12 - The Cultural Issues of the Melting Pot Theory15:58 - Having the Hard Conversations
Educator and human rights advocate, Nicole Lee, joins Traci and shares her strategies around equity and inclusion in the workplace and the pitfalls of meritocracy.Introducing Nicole Lee and Her Work in Diversity, Equity, and InclusionDiversity: Is it Really a Numbers Game?How Does Your Company’s Diversity Report Card Fare?The Research is In! Diverse Teams are More CollaborativeFolks Are Not Interested in PlatitudesRoom for Growth: When Companies Admit, They Don’t Do a Good JobDon’t Fall for the Meritocracy TrapLuck is Not MeritocracyThe Real Issues: Qualifications, Access Points, Recruiting, & Retention
Diversity, equity, and inclusion strategist, Nicole Lee, joins Traci for the second part of their diversity, equity, and inclusion conversation where they discuss the nuts and bolts of the Black Lives Matter movement and why elections matter.01:21 - What is Black Lives Matter?03:26 - Mike Brown’s Death in Ferguson05:17 - The Movement For Black Lives06:57 - Misguided Beliefs: What Black Lives Matter Really Stands For09:04 - People Are More Important Than Property13:40 - Voter Education and Civic Engagement14:32 - Local Elections Matter!
Wendell Young IV, UFCW Local 1776 president and International Foundation president, joins Traci Dority-Shanklin for the second and final part of their conversation. Wendell opens up about his tenure as president of the International Foundation and the problems facing pension funds due to Covid-19.02:04 – What Is the International Foundation?04:51 – The Benefits of the International Foundation06:44 – The Economic Upheaval of Covid-1909:50 – It Ain’t Over Yet and Here’s Why12:49 – On the Front Line with the UFCW18:36 – The Benefit of Collective Bargaining19:42 – JBS: A Coronavirus Success Story 23:02 – The UFCW Leads the Way: Why Education Matters
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