Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The purpose of this article is to analyze the role of pension plans' in the labor relations process. The earliest pension plans had their origin in the early nineteenth century and were pioneered by fraternal associations established and operated by and for the employees. The advent of unions on the labor scene resulted in the union, instead of the fraternal association, administering the program. As for employer pension plans, the union leaders feared that such programs were only a devious employer's device to prevent unionization. Thus, prior to World War II, employer pension plans were usually unilaterally instituted. However, beginning in 1942 collective bargaining for pension plans began to achieve major momentum. Among the circumstances which combined to produce this result were the tax deduction allowed the employer for contribution to these programs; the National War Labor Board policy of freezing cash pay raises while increasing compensation in the form of fringe benefits; and decisions of the National Labor Relations Board, sustained by the courts, that pensions were properly within the statutory scope of the employer's duty to bargain.