If you’re a nurse at a Twin Cities hospital, it’s likely you’ve heard about your MNA Twin City Pension Plan. And whether you’ve heard of it or not, that doesn’t mean you don’t have questions about it. What is the pension plan? What are the benefits? How can I learn more? Let’s dig in!
After years of attempts at negotiating and finally arbitration, the Minnesota Nurses Association and Twin City hospitals established the nation’s first multi-employer pension plan in 1962. The plan is a “Defined Benefit” pension plan that is negotiated and jointly administered. Participating employers include Allina, Children’s, Fairview-HealthEast, Methodist, and North Memorial.
So, what is your pension?
Your MNA pension is a defined benefit—that means it is based on your W2 earnings. It is also a vested benefit, meaning once you are vested, you own the benefit. The MNA pension is employer funded. Contribution levels are set to meet projected benefits, given market conditions/risk. Contributions made by your employer are real money. There are no IOUs or company stocks involved. And the fund is only used for benefits and reasonable administrative costs—it’s not a slush fund for when your employer hits hard times. Whether you live until 82 or 110, your monthly pension benefit will remain the same.
How is our pension plan administered?
Your pension has a Pension Committee that is made up of six members on each side—three regular committee members and three alternates. Your pension also has a Plan Administrator with Wilson McShane as well as an Actuary.
Vesting Credit vs. Benefit Credit
What’s the difference between a vesting credit and a benefit credit? A vesting credit is years of service that count toward earning your benefit. A benefit credit is the amount of money you can expect per month in retirement, once you are fully vested.
Once you have five qualifying years of employment, you are vested in your pension! To be “vested” means that your benefit is non-forfeitable, even if you never have any future service. When does a year count for vesting? Any W2 year that you have at least 1,000 credited hours as a contract RN at a participating hospital counts. After you’ve been vested for 10 years, any year that you have at least 832 credited hours will also be counted.
All paid hours count toward your pension. That includes:
- All on duty hours
- Overtime hours (one hour credit per OT hour)
- All on-call hours (both on and off premises)
- Paid unworked hours (vacation, sick leave, holiday, PTO, disability up to 501 hours for a single continuing absence)
- Worker’s Compensation
The following unpaid hours also count toward your pension:
- Voluntary and involuntary low-need days
- Active military duty
- Special rule for Social Security disability
What is the Rule of 85?
Normal retirement age is 65. But if you want to retire early, your pension allows you to do so with the Rule of 85. The Rule of 85 is when your age plus your years of service are added together to equal 85, you can then retire with no reduction in your pension.
For example, you start at age 23 with a participating employer. You then retire at age 54, after completing 31 years of service: 54+31= 85.
Another example, you start at age 39 with a participating employer. You then retire at age 62, after completing 23 years of service: 62+23 = 85.
Worth the fight
Twin Cities nurses have successfully protected this plan contract after contract. Having a pension, a fund that is healthy and sustainable, is valuable. It is worth the fight to attain this benefit and continues to still be worth fighting for. A pension unites nurses across lines of hospital, unit, age, and experience—all nurses in the Twin Cities metro benefit from having the pension.
To ensure that you continue to have a strong pension, it’s important to educate your fellow coworkers. Have a one-on-one conversation with them. Organize them and prepare with one another to fight for the pension if that time comes.
Do you have questions about the pension or want to know more? MNA often hosts pension workshops for members, so keep an eye out for upcoming workshops. In the meantime, you can reach out to the members of your Pension Committee to learn more.