The pension scheme thus adopted by the Typographical Union is the most ambitious that has been proposed in any American trade union. The sum of money required to finance the project will be very large, and the Union has levied for the support of the pension system an assessment of one half of one per cent. on the wages of all its members. Whether this will be sufficient adequately to support the benefit is as yet uncertain, since the number of pensioners cannot be estimated with any accuracy. It is certain also that the number of pensioners will not reach its maximum for a considerable period.
No factor has been of more consequence in determining the development and stability of the relief systems than the character of their administration. The problems that confront the unions are both legislative and administrative, but the administrative organs must not only execute the rules already in force, but must furnish data upon which additional rules can be based.
When the early voluntary insurance associations were formed under the auspices of the national unions, their management was usually confided to a separate set of officials, and the funds of the association were kept distinct from those of the unions with which they were connected. In some cases the officers of the unions, for purposes of economy, acted also as officers of the association. The Iron Molders’ Beneficial Association was thus formed as a separate institution to furnish a voluntary death and disability benefit to any journeyman molder in good standing in any local union under the jurisdiction of the national organization.
[Footnote 210: Iron Molders’ Journal, Vol. 7, March, 1871.]
The administration of the beneficiary systems, in all but two of the unions, is now carried on by the officers who manage the general affairs of the union. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the National Association of Letter Carriers each maintains a mutual benefit department administered by separate officers. The official staff of the Engineers’ Insurance Association consists of a president, a vice-president, a secretary-treasurer and five trustees; while that of the Letter Carriers consists of the president of the National Association, a board of trustees, a chief collector and a depositary. In those unions in which the administration of the beneficiary system is in the hands of the officials of the union the officials in charge of the administration of the benefits are usually two, variously known as a grand chief, grand master or president and a secretary-treasurer. In a few unions the offices of treasurer and secretary are separated. In the Cigar Makers the president also performs the duty of secretary. In the Tailors the general secretary has sole charge of the benefits. In the Iron Molders’ Union the “financier” has charge of the administration of the sick benefits.