While some unions maintain an adversarial relationship with their signatories, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) has always strived for collaboration with its management partners.

LIUNA’s approach will be on display this month in San Diego when LIUNA’s Tri-Funds hold their biennial conference. The Tri-Funds are managed jointly by the union and its signatory employers, each with a distinct mission to advance the common interests of Laborers and their employers.

The oldest of the three funds, the LIUNA Training and Education Fund, develops comprehensive training curricula for Laborers and teaches instructors to be effective trainers. The Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (LECET), tracks market trends and assists LIUNA signatory contractors in taking advantage of emerging business opportunities. The Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA) is focused on workplace safety and health, health promotion and assistance to LIUNA’s health and welfare funds.

Because so much of the Tri-Funds’ work is inter-related, LIUNA’s Tri-Funds Conference provides an opportunity for local union officials, training directors and fund trustees to exchange insights and update their programs based on reports from their peers. The Conference also provides an opportunity for networking and for motivational and political presentations. LIUNA leaders – including General President Terence M. O’Sullivan and General Secretary-Treasurer Armand E. Sabitoni – address the assembly, providing the latest commentary and direction from the nation’s largest construction-based union.

At the Conference, the LHSFNA will offer three workshops.

  • H&W Fund Compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) contains health and welfare fund structure and benefits mandates that will affect LIUNA plans as early as October 1, 2010. Changes in lifetime and annual benefit limits, coverage for dependent children, expanded coverage for wellness benefits and limitations on waiting periods (eligibility) for coverage mean plans will have to review and revise scopes and levels of benefits to ensure compliance or face penalties and fees. The workshop panel will provide fund administrators and consultants, trustees, employers and LIUNA leadership with up-to-the-minute information on the impact of the legislation for Taft-Hartley health and welfare funds as well as practical solutions to ensure compliance.

  • Health Care Reform: How It Will Impact LIUNA Members

The PPACA will impact not just how health and welfare funds operate, but how benefits will be provided. Will there be new taxes? Who will pay them? Will your benefits be reduced? Can you keep your current coverage? What about your doctors—will they still take your insurance? This workshop will provide union leadership and signatory employers with answers to some of the most commonly asked questions asked by the members and identify potential health care reform issues for the coming decade.

  • Overview and Impact of Regulatory Changes

Today’s increasingly complex regulatory climate has direct impact on both construction companies and local unions.  OSHA and the EPA have enacted a number of new regulations that affect contractors, local unions, training funds and workers.  In this workshop, LIUNA Training and Education Fund and Laborer’s Health and Safety Fund of North America staff will explore a selection of recently enacted federal regulations and provide insight into the long-term actions being pursued by both agencies.

This year’s Conference takes place August 15-18 at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego, California.

[Steve Clark]