Retirement Savings Plan FAQs

  • Is the Retirement Savings Plan a Pension Plan?

    No. Technically, the Retirement Savings Plan is Profit Sharing/401(k) Plan. Employers are required to make contributions at a set rate per hour for each hour that you work in covered employment. These are Employer profit sharing contributions made on your behalf. In addition, you may elect to reduce your regular hourly wage by an amount and in the manner provided for in the collective bargaining agreement and have an equivalent amount contributed to the Plan. These are "elective deferrals" or 401 (k) contributions. Profit sharing contributions are completely non- taxable contributions, but elective deferral contributions are subject to both employer and employee FICA taxes, although not subject to either federal or state income taxes. Despite the fact that this Plan is no longer, technically, a Pension Plan under the Internal Revenue Code, virtually the same eligibility and distribution rules apply to this Plan as had applied to the Money Purchase Pension Plan.

  • Who is covered by the Plan?

    Employees of contributing Employers who employ electrical workers pursuant to a Collective Bargaining Agreement between IBEW Local 6 and the San Francisco Electrical Contractors Association (SFECA) and other Employers not affiliated with SFECA which require contributions to this Plan are covered by this Plan. Alumni Employees of IBEW Local 6 and the JATC participate pursuant to Subscription Agreements entered into with the Plan. In addition, former bargaining unit personnel who qualify as "alumni employees" of currently contributing Employers are also permitted to participate in the Plan pursuant to "alumni subscription agreements."

  • May I work in the Electrical Industry after Retirement?

    Although your retirement savings benefits will not be suspended if you return to work in the Industry, your defined benefit plan benefits are subject to a suspension if you work in what is deemed Prohibited Employment under the provisions of the Northern California Electrical Workers Pension Plan. You should, therefore, refer to those provisions before making a decision to return to employment.

  • May I use my benefits as security?

    No. Federal law does not permit you to assign, sell or otherwise dispose of your rights, nor can anyone else obtain your rights under the Plan. One exception to that rule is that a court may order that all or a portion of your benefits be used to satisfy child or spousal support obligations pursuant to a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. In addition, the Plan may be required to comply with an IRS levy on your benefits once your benefits are in pay status.

  • May I Borrow from the Plan?

    Yes. The Plan was amended effective December 1, 2009 to add a loan provision. If you are a Participant or Beneficiary of the Plan, you may borrow up to the lesser of 1) $50,000 or 2) 50% of your account balance. The loan interest rate if fixed at the prime rate published by Reuters at the time the loan is processed, plus 1%. The minimum term of the loan is 12 months and the maximum term is 60 months, or 180 months if your loan is used to acquire your principal residence. You must initiate the loan process by contacting Fidelity Investments at 866-84-UNION, or online at

  • What happens if I Default on a Loan?

    If your account is not distributable under the terms of the Plan, the Plan will default the unpaid balance of your loan if any scheduled payment remains unpaid as of the last day of the calendar quarter succeeding the calendar quarter in which the payment became late. Once a loan is in default, it is considered distributed for tax purposes and will be reported as such to the IRS at tax time. You are not eligible to take another loan from the Plan if you have previously defaulted on a loan and that loan remains an asset or the Plan.

  • Does the Plan Allow a Withdrawal in the Event of Financial Hardship?

    Under certain circumstances, you may qualify for a Hardship withdrawal provided you have received all other distributions that may be available to you under this Plan and all other plans of your Employer in which you participate (including any tax-free loans). Because the tax rules prohibit in-service (including hardship) withdrawals from the Money Purchase Pension portion of your account and from other employer contributions that are made to this Plan, you may request a hardship withdrawal only if you have had 401(k) contributions since the plan was converted to a profit sharing/401(k) plan at the beginning of 2007. The rules further prohibit the withdrawal of earnings on your 401(k) account, so your maximum hardship withdrawal will be limited to the lesser of 1) the amount of 401(k) contributions reported since January 1, 2007, plus any rollovers you have made to the Plan since January 1, 2007, and 2) the amount needed to satisfy the hardship. Click here for a summary of the "Hardship Rules", including the specific financial needs that meet the criteria for a hardship withdrawal.

  • May I Withdraw my Benefits in a Lump Sum?

    Yes. Lump sum distributions are permitted under the Plan; however, if you are married, to be entitled to a lump sum distribution, you must obtain your spouse's written consent to waive the Joint and Survivor Annuity form of benefits. This waiver must be signed before a notary or a Plan representative.

  • May I Contribute to the Plan When I am Not Working?

    No. The Internal Revenue Code does not permit contributions during periods in which you are not working. However, during any open enrollment period you may elect to defer a portion of your wages in increments specified in a Collective Bargaining Agreement when you are working, and have such deferrals contributed by your employer to the Plan. These are 401 (k) contributions which will not be subject to federal and state income taxes, but will be subject to F.I.C.A. taxes.

  • What Happens to the Employer And 401 (k) Contributions Made on My Behalf When I Work in the Area of Other IBEW Unions?

    If you work under a collective bargaining agreement in the jurisdiction of another IBEW Local Union, your Employer's contributions to a defined contribution plan under that agreement will be made on your behalf to that Local Union's fund. If that Local Union's Fund is signatory to the Electrical Industry Reciprocal Agreement, if IBEW 6's Fund is your "Home Fund" and you execute a transfer authorization via the Electronic Reciprocal Transfer System (ERTS), the contributions that are reported to the other fund will be transferred to this Plan and be calculated as if you had worked in IBEW Local 6's jurisdiction.

    Employee wage deferrals (401(k) contributions) elected pursuant to an IBEW 6 collective bargaining agreement will not be deducted from your wages while you are working in another jurisdiction unless you are working in another jurisdiction pursuant to the IBEW/NECA Employee Portability Agreement.

  • If I am a Traveler working in Local 6's jurisdiction, What Happens to the Employer and 401(k) Contributions made on my behalf?

    Employer profit sharing contributions may be reciprocated to your home local fund through the Electrical Industry Reciprocal Agreement if your home fund is signatory to that agreement and you execute a transfer authorization via the Electronic Reciprocal Transfer System (ERTS). However, if you have elected to defer a portion of your wages under a local 6 collective bargaining agreement as 401 (k) contributions, these contributions will not be transferred to your home fund.

    If, while you were working in IBEW Local 6's jurisdiction you had the opportunity to transfer your contributions to your Home Fund and you chose not to do so, you will not be eligible to later roll over your Individual Account to that other IBEW plan. This rule will not apply, however, in the event that no reciprocal agreement was available for the transfer of your contributions or a transfer of contributions was not otherwise possible to your home fund at the time such contributions were made on your behalf to this Plan. In that event, when and if a reciprocal arrangement is later entered into by this Plan and your home fund, you will be offered the right to roll your accumulated individual account in this Plan into your home fund, provided your home fund will accept such a rollover.

  • If I Leave Local 6's Jurisdiction, May I Withdraw my Retirement Plan Benefits?

    If you Individual Account balance is $5,000 or less, you have not engaged in any work in the electrical construction industry within the jurisdiction of IBEW Local 6 for 18 consecutive months, and you certify that you do not intend to return to work within the jurisdiction of IBEW Local 6, you may withdraw your account. No spousal consent is required on distributions of less than $5,000.

  • Can I Roll Over My Benefits To Another Plan or Account?

    Yes, in many situations. If you are entitled to a distribution from the Plan that is eligible to be rolled over, and your spouse, if you are married, waives the Joint and Survivor Annuity form of benefits, you may roll over a portion or all of your Individual Account balance to another qualified Individual Account plan (that will accept it) or an Individual Retirement Account. There are time limits for making a tax deferred rollover, usually within 60 days of the distribution date.

    If you are not yet eligible for a distribution from the Plan, you may also be entitled to "roll over" your Individual Account to your "home fund" as defined in the Electrical Industry Reciprocal Agreement, provided 1) the Plan will accept the "rollover" and 2) you did not have the opportunity to transfer your Employer contributions to your "Home Fund" under the Electrical Industry Reciprocal Agreement while your were working in IBEW Local 6's jurisdiction either because the accruals were made before Industry Reciprocity went into effect or because the San Francisco Electrical Workers Retirement Plan, (or predecessor Money Purchase Plan) was not your "Home Fund," as defined in the Electrical Industry Reciprocal Agreement at the time of your participation.

  • If I Work in Another Jurisdiction But Want the Contributions Made on my Behalf transferred into this Plan, may I do so?

    Yes, if the Plan sponsored by the IBEW Local Union in the jurisdiction you are working is an Individual Account Pension or Profit Sharing Plan and that Plan is signatory to the Electrical Industry Reciprocal Agreement. As the Electrical Industry Reciprocity Agreement does not cover 401 (k) elective deferral plans, elective deferrals may not be reciprocated to this Plan. An exception to this rule occurs when you are working in a jurisdiction covered by the IBEW/NECA Manpower Portability Agreement. In that event, your Employer will transmit your elective deferral contributions directly to this Plan. If you are not a Local 6 Member, however, you may not have contributions reciprocated to this plan unless this plan is your "home fund" under the Electrical Industry Reciprocity Agreement.

  • May I Direct the Investment of All or a Portion of My Individual Account Balance?

    Yes. Once your Individual Account aggregates $5000.00, you have the option to direct that up to 100% of your account be invested in one (1) or more mutual funds that have been selected by the Trustees to give you a broad range of choices based upon your age, style of investment desired and diversification of your portfolio. In order to begin self-directing investments, however, you must attend an investment education course approved by the Trustees and certify in writing that you have done so. Should you decide to self-direct the investment of less than 100% of your Individual Account, the Trustees will continue to invest that portion of your Individual Account that you have not chosen to invest on your own.

  • If I Do Not Direct Invest All or a Portion of my Account, How is My Account Invested?

    The Board of Trustees has adopted a "Statement of Investment Guidelines" to guide them in investing the Plan's assets. The Trustees' objective is to achieve a satisfactory total return through investment in a diversified portfolio of fixed income and equity securities consistent with acceptable risk and prudent investment management.

    If you do not Direct Invest all or a portion of your account, it will automatically default to the SFEW Trustee Directed Account. The Trustees have contracted with Dodge and Cox, a nationally known investment manager headquartered in San Francisco, to invest the Trustee directed investment of plan assets in accordance with the Investment Policy adopted by the Board of Trustees. This includes 65% invested in fixed income and 30% in equities, with the remaining 5% of the assets invested in a commodities fund managed by Credit Suisse. Your Plan's assets are primarily invested in stocks and bonds (and other fixed income investments). The Trustees have also contracted with the Alan D. Biller & Associates to provide investment consulting services which includes monitoring the Fund's investment performance and ensuring compliance with the Investment Policy and Guidelines.

  • How Often and When Do I Receive An Account Balance Statement?

    The Plan provides you with an annual statement showing the value of your Individual Account, including Employer contributions made on your behalf during the prior period, expenses charged to your Individual Account during the quarter and any earnings (or losses) allocable to your account for the quarter. Quarterly statements are available upon request if you are registered online with Fidelity Investments.

  • May I Access My Account On Line?

    Yes. Fidelity Investments has been contracted by the Plan to perform recordkeeping services for both the Trustee Directed Account portfolio that is managed by Dodge and Cox and the Self-Directed Individual Accounts. Your account is valued at the end of each business day to include any returns or losses on investments. You have online access to your account by logging on to Fidelity NetBenefits at You can set up your personal identification number (PIN) online or by contacting Fidelity at 1-866-84UNION.

  • How Are Apprenticeship Hours Counted?

    No contributions are made for the first level of apprentices. Thereafter, contributions are made for each hour of work in an amount specified in the collective bargaining agreement. Apprentices are not eligible to have 401(k) elective deferral contributions made on their behalf. They must wait until they become journey level employees.

  • Are there limits to my benefits under IRS rules?

    The Internal Revenue Code limits the amount of Employer contributions that may be made to the Plan on your behalf to $49,000.00 for 2011. The Code also limits elective deferrals to $16,500.00 for 2011; however, Employer contributions and elective deferrals may not, in combination, exceed the $49,000.00 amount. These limits are adjusted for inflation periodically (usually each year) in accordance with a formula adopted by the Secretary of the Treasury. Although the Trustees do not anticipate that any participant will exceed these limits, the Plan is required to contain certain rules restricting annual contributions to your Individual Account to comply with applicable law.

  • What should I do when I want to Retire?

    You should contact the Plan Office in the event you are disabled, or you intend to retire in the near future. The Plan Office will furnish you with a Retirement application form, which you should complete and submit to the Plan Office. You are encouraged to contact the Plan office at least 4 months prior to your anticipated retirement to schedule an appointment with a Plan representative.

  • Once I Begin Receiving Benefits, May I change my Benefit Option?

    Possibly, depending on your initial benefit option. If you selected a Joint and Survivor Annuity form of benefit and that form of benefit was obtained through an insurance company or other entity, your benefit option may not be changed. If, however, you selected a partial distribution or were receiving periodic or specified monthly payments, you may elect, with the consent of your spouse if you are married, to take a partial distribution of any amount once in a 12 month period or take a full lump sum distribution of your Individual Account balance.

  • If I Die Before Retiring Will my Beneficiary(ies) Receive Any Portion of My Benefits?

    Yes. If you are married, but have not named your spouse as your beneficiary, your surviving spouse will be entitled to his or her community property interest in your Individual Account balance unless your spouse waived such entitlement (signed before a Plan representative or a Notary). In addition, a former spouse may be entitled to a portion or all of your benefits pursuant to a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (known as a QDRO). If your marriage is dissolved, the designation of your former spouse as your beneficiary will be automatically revoked, unless you subsequently redesignate your former spouse as your beneficiary. If you are not married (or your spouse has provided the required written consent to permit your benefits to be paid to your designated beneficiary), benefits will be paid to your designated beneficiary or beneficiaries.

  • Who runs my Plan?

    The Board of Trustees has sole and complete control of all matters involving this Plan. The Board of Trustees, alone, is authorized to interpret the Plan benefits described herein. No Employer, Union nor any other person or organization is authorized to interpret the Plan, except as authorized by the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees has the discretionary authority to determine benefit claims and to construe the terms of the Plan, and any amendments and other pertinent documents or rules and regulations.

  • Where can I get information concerning the Plan?

    This explanation of your Plan is no more than a brief description of the Plan. Copies of the Plan, Trust Agreement, and annual tax return (Form 5500) are available for your review at the Plan Office during normal working hours upon written request.

    You may obtain copies of these documents by written request and upon payment of a reasonable copying charge (25 cents per page). You should contact the Plan Office to determine the charges. The Plan's phone number is 415-263-3670. You may write to the Plan office at: 720 Market St., Ste 700, San Francisco, CA 94102. In addition, general Plan information, including this Summary Plan Description, and any subsequent notices of modifications to the Plan can be found on the Electrical Industry Service Bureau's web site;

  • What do I need to do now?

    You should ensure that your name and social security number are correct with each Employer for whom you work and inform the Plan Office of your correct address. When and if you change your address, inform the Plan Office immediately, otherwise important information regarding the Plan will not reach you.