ATA hails House passage of pension protection legislation

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American Trucking Associations hailed House passage of comprehensive pension-reform legislation designed to improve the solvency of single, multiemployer and so-called hybrid pension plans.

“This was a bipartisan effort reflecting compromises between labor and management,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said Thursday, Dec. 15. “Many industries, including trucking, have been concerned with the pension issue for some time, and its passage provides a measure of certainty that is greatly appreciated by the business community.”

The Pension Protection Act of 2005 was designed to revamp traditional pension plans and prevent a taxpayer bailout of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. The House bill must be reconciled with the Senate pension-reform legislation that passed in November. PBGC, the self-financed federal agency that insures pension plans for 44 million workers, reportedly has deficits of $22.8 billion. Single-employer participants have dropped to less than 30,000 from 95,000 in 1980 as companies drop or replace defined-benefit plans.

The legislation provides for an early warning system to identify pension plans that are facing financial problems. Additional tools also are provided that will allow plan trustees to address financial problems before they become unmanageable. It also requires additional disclosure information to plan participants and contributing employers to help improve the funding performance of the plans.

The House pension bill will help companies fund their pension liabilities and includes more than two dozen proposals involving IRAs, defined pension benefits and 401K retirement plans.

Graves thanked Education and Workforce Chairman John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) for their leadership in passing H.R. 2830. “This particular bill has traveled a difficult road in reaching final passage and would not have done that without Chairman Boehner and Chairman Thomas,” Graves said. “They responded to a pressing need and helped push this vital legislation across the finish line.”