From a Wall Street Journal account of the labor strife at the New York Times, where unionized employees are staging a walkout: "The negotiations have centered around pay, retirement and other benefits. The company recently offered a choice between keeping a pension plan or selecting a new 401(k) plan, a change from its initial proposal of replacing the pension with the 401(k)."
Is the New York Times Company really one of the rare private-sector workplaces still offering a defined benefit pension plan rather than a defined contribution plan like the 401(k)? If so, it raises some interesting ironies in the context of the newspaper's coverage of government taxing and spending. Union-negotiated defined-benefit pension plans are a big driver of state and local government budgets. If Times management thinks a defined contribution plan is good enough for Times employees, welcome to the fight: we look forward to the series of Times editorials on the costs of public-sector pensions. And if Times unionized journalists are fighting to protect their own defined-benefit pensions, no wonder they've been largely absent from the fight to scrutinize those costs, and reform the plans, in the public sector.
Maybe if the Times employees' retirements were dependent on stock market returns, rather than guaranteed, the union would be less ardently campaigning against stock buybacks, which can benefit existing shareholders. Or they might have a more pro-growth attitude toward business, generally. Far be it from me to offer labor-negotiation advice to Times management. I sold my NYT Co. stock long ago. But as a taxpayer with an interest in efficient government and pro-growth public policies, I am hoping the demand to move to a defined contribution pension plan is one on which Times management takes a firm line rather than caving in on.