Via Lawyers, Guns & Money, our eyes were drawn to a story out of Missouri, where a judge ruled that a mining corporation in the throes of bankruptcy proceedings could cancel out its pension and retirement obligations to 20,000 workers and stop paying into the union pension fund as early as July 1. The details of the story are complicated and potentially ugly, with unions alleging legal chicanery and the corporation claiming that the ruling would help it preserve thousands of existing jobs. The case is headed to a federal appeals court.But the specifics of this case aside, there is a broader and more important lesson to be absorbed here: If the workers had defined contribution plans rather than defined benefit ones, their financial future wouldn’t be tied to the health of the company they work for.Defined benefit pensions are part of the blue model system which assumes lifetime employment at stable corporate employers. But the corporate world isn’t stable anymore, and defined benefit pensions expose workers to huge risks. If we were still in a blue model economy, defined benefit plans might make sense, but these schemes are looking dicier and dicier in the actual real world. Plus these pensions often leave workers who are laid off or change jobs short of retirement much worse off and lock people into declining industries, increasing the leverage that employers have over them.Right now, defined contribution pensions—401(k)s and similar mechanisms, themselves also products of the blue model—are not as efficient as they could be and there aren’t the kinds of consumer protections that would really help workers to make the most of them. This is all blue model legacy—for those inside the old system things worked pretty well, but those who didn’t fit the mold had a harder time.Those who support defined benefit systems often point to the shortcomings of defined contribution—and they have some valid points as things currently stand. But the right thing to do is to make the defined contribution system better, not to keep people locked up in an increasingly dysfunctional old model.Edited last paragraph for clarity.