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KEY Questions

Following are the responses to some of our most frequently asked questions. If you have additional questions about Union Benefits, please submit them here.

What is Union Benefits?
Union Benefits is a premier administrator that operates on a not-for-profit basis in support of Member pension, health benefit, vacation pay, supplementary unemployment benefit and productivity bonus plans. Owned and operated by 35 participating trust funds, Union Benefits proudly serves 9,000 Members from 17 different locals.

How does a trust fund join Union Benefits?
A qualifying trust fund can join Union Benefits by purchasing two shares in our company at a cost of $1.00 per share. In addition, new trusts pay a nominal one-time fee that is used to cover some of the costs associated with setting up the new trust fund on the Union Benefits systems. Of note, the share cost and the set-up fee have not increased since the company was founded in 1983.

What does membership provide?
Once the trust fund joins Union Benefits, it automatically gains full access to all of the products, services and volume-purchasing arrangements that Union Benefits has to offer.

How does a trust fund pay Union Benefits for the services that it receives?
Each trust fund is charged a monthly fee based on a long-established Union Benefits fee schedule. These fees vary from one trust to another based on some pre-determined factors, including the number of Members participating in the trust.

The Union Benefit Fee Schedule was established in 1983 – and reduced by about 25% in 1986. It hasn’t changed since then. All of the fees collected by Union Benefits each month are used solely to cover the company’s operating costs. Any excess fees collected throughout the year (that is, fees above those required to cover the operating expenses) are simply refunded to the trust funds.

Does Union Benefits receive money or payments from any other sources?
Absolutely not. Our only source of income is the monthly fees paid directly by the trust fund shareholders in accordance with the Union Benefits Fee Schedule. We do not accept commissions, brokerage fees, trailer fees, persistence fees, or any other forms of payment from any other source (including our alliance partners). As such, our trust fund shareholders can rest assured that there are no financial conflicts of interest that might colour the advice or services we provide.

Does access to volume purchasing mean that we have to adopt cookie-cutter programs?
No. Our volume-purchasing programs do not operate on a one-size-fits-all basis. They give the individual Boards of Trustees the flexibility to choose the benefit structure – including benefit options, benefit levels, pension plan structure (defined benefit or defined contribution) and plan investments – that fit their Members’ needs. Using the collective buying power of all 9,000 Members represented by Union Benefits, we can secure a highly preferred pricing structure from our alliance partners, regardless of the plan provisions.

This all sounds too good to be true. How is it that Union Benefits can provide such great service at such a low cost?
Union Benefits was established in 1983 with a single purpose: to provide the Members of the founding locals much better service than they were getting from their “for profit” administrators and consultants at the time. Our consistent ability to deliver the best possible service at the lowest possible cost stems from three key strategies:

  • By eliminating the profit motive, we are able to keep our fees well below those charged by “for profit” administrators.
  • Given that we are owned and operating by the participating trust funds, we are committed to serving our “owners” better than any unaffiliated organization could.
  • Thanks to our unique volume-purchasing program, we are able to secure preferred service and pricing arrangements from a growing list of alliance partners.

To see just how well we have delivered on our commitments, we invite you to review the results of a recent Trustee Survey.

If Union Benefits is not motivated by profits, why is it interested in attracting more trust funds?
It is a simple matter of scale. As more groups join Union Benefits, we can spread our operating costs more thinly across the trust fund shareholders who own us and use our services – which further reduces our administration and consulting costs on a per-member basis. As the collective pot grows, we can also look to secure even better products and services for our Trustees and Members. After all, success breeds success.

Does Union Benefits offer its services to corporate clients?
No. Union Benefits is owned entirely by – and works only for – multi-employer trust funds representing several unionized construction trades and IATSE locals. By focusing our efforts, we can provide specialized systems and services that meet the unique needs of Trustees and Members in the unionized construction sector.

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