Just because you or your colleagues can understand the differences between retirement plan types, the foolhardiness of cashing it in early, or what a 401(k) loan costs you in potential lost returns doesn't mean that everyone can. Yes, most large employers have simpler options with 401(k)s now, and you have the basic choice of age appropriate, stable, risky or "OMG scary" funds, but smaller employers can set up retirement accounts that can basically invest in whatever they want. I remember reading about a long-term employee of a dental practice who lost everything in the 2008 crash because their only retirement investment options involved the dentist's various real estate dealings.
Contrast this with a pension, usually invested by professionals using actuarial models, who have decades of time to fix screw-ups, and automatically manage peoples' contributions. It's similar to Social Security -- no matter what anyone says, there will be at least some benefits available to retirees. They won't be as generous as payouts from an incredibly lucky or financially savvy 401(k) investor, but they'll be there. The thing that bothers me is that people who don't understand finances are the best suited to pensions, but they're losing this as an option. If I were growing up in the 60s, and got a plumbers' apprenticeship out of high school, which do you think would appeal more to me?
(a) "Contribute $x per week to the union pension fund, and when you retire, you are guaranteed receive at least $y * (years of service)."
(b) "Here's a mound of paperwork with financial terms you won't understand. Choose a percentage of your income to save. (What's a percentage?) Choose a fund, here's the fees but don't worry about fees. Past performance is no guarantee of future results."
Sometimes, people who are techie and live/work around other techies lose sight of the fact that there are millions of other people in society with them that don't have the capability to understand these things.