By Scott Moritz, Bloomberg Technology - Sept 16, 2016
NRLN Report Cards on UT, ID and MT Members of Congress
The National Retiree Legislative Network's advocacy emphasis is on Pension Plan Asset Protection, including stopping the use of pension assets for non-pension expenses, protecting retirees in pension plan de-risking and providing more accurate disclosures in Annual Funding Notices. The NRLN also advocates getting important prescription drug bills passed plus enactment of legislation to eliminate Medicare's rule requiring a 3-day inpatient stay in a hospital to qualify for Medicare payment of skilled nursing facility services.
Part of the lobbying effort of the NRLN and the NRLN Grassroots organization is to help educate the officials and their staffs about the need for the legislation. While a Representative or Senator may not actively sponsor or co-sponsor a bill, it is hoped he or she will vote favorably at the time of final passage.
Click on the separate links below to view the stance (April 2016) of U.S. Senators and Representatives in the NRLN Mountain West Region in Utah, Idaho and Montana.Utah Report Card
Idaho Report Card
Montana Report Card
Click here to read obituaries of US West/Qwest/CenturyLink retirees. If you see obituaries of your former co-workers, please send newspaper clippings or information to Claudeen Luckart at firstname.lastname@example.org .
NRLN Guarding Chapter Members’ Pension Plans
Chapter members who have an email address in the NRLN Action Network database should have received the message from NRLN Bill Kadereit about Congress passing a two-year bipartisan budget bill that included a provision to raise the premiums that corporate pension plan sponsors pay to the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).
The NRLN is concerned that the legislation could prompt pension plan sponsors to take a negative action on its pension plan such as de-risking. This action is when an employer switches its plan to the purchase of an annuity from an insurance company. This eliminates for pension plan participants the protections of ERISA and the PBGC safety net.
Association of US West Retirees (AUSWR) will recall that Curtis Kennedy has provided legal representation for US West / Qwest / CenturyLink retirees. He also has a big concern that the PBGC premium increases will incentivize many more high-profile pension plan sponsors, such as CenturyLink, to develop plans to "de-risk" their pension liability exposure. The NRLN and Mr. Kennedy regularly work together to protect the interests of retirees. Mr. Kennedy will again attend the NRLN’s Annual Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. the first week of February.
NRLN Utah Chapter on the Move
As your NRLN Utah Chapter moves toward 2014 your leadership team is working on being effective grassroots advocates with Utah U.S. Representatives and Senators plus making plans on how we expand the size of our organization.
I met on December 5th with Sherri Shilcrat, Chapter Legislative Director, and Neil West, NRLN Vice President, Mountain West Region, for a planning session on how we move forward. We decided to ask Chapter Congressional District leaders to form their own network of people to help them in calling and letter writing campaigns with their members of Congress.
I thought you might like to get to know your Chapter leaders. Read more.
Utah AUSWR Members Are Core of NRLN Utah Chapter
The final year of the AUSWR Utah/Idaho/Montana organization is winding down. The August meetings in Salt Lake City and St. George were the last scheduled meetings. So that years of work standing up for the rights of US West/Qwest/CenturyLink retirees does not vanish, the Utah Chapter of the National Retiree Legislative Network has been formed. The NRLN is a nationwide organization solely dedicated to representing in Washington, D.C. the interest of retirees and future retirees.
I am Neil West the NRLN Vice President for the Mountain West Region and I will be working with NRLN Chapters in Utah, Idaho and Montana. I am pleased to announce that Claudeen Luckart is the NRLN Utah Chapter President. Claudeen, who lives in West Valley City, UT, retired from Qwest in 2003. She was a Customer Service Technician.
Leading the NRLN Utah Chapter’s Congressional grassroots efforts are:
- Sherri Shilcrat – NRLN Utah Chapter Legislative Director.
- Congressional District 1 (Pending) – U.S. Representative Rob Bishop
- Congressional District 2 Robbin McGee – U.S. Representative Chris Stewart
- Congressional District 3 Pat Adams – U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz
- Congressional District 4 Sharon Smith – U.S. Representative Jim Matheson
The NRLN Utah Chapter is looking for help to organize in Congressional District 1. We all need to be concerned about what is going on in Washington, DC regarding our retiree benefits, social security, and the burden of health costs in general on fixed incomes during these retirement years. It’s time that our elected officials hear from us on these important topics! The NRLN can help all of us to communicate effectively with the members of Congress that we have elected.
The Utah Chapter would like help from volunteers to provide items about fellow retirees and to continue milestone information about deaths, etc. on the chapter’s website.
If you would like to volunteer to assist the NRLN Utah Chapter, send an email to Claudeen at email@example.com or call her at 801-969-9576. WE NEED YOUR HELP!
AUSWR UT/ID/MT members in other states are being sent this message for the NRLN Utah Chapter. If your preference is to be identified with either the Idaho Chapter or Montana Chapter that is being formed, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and state the chapter with which you want to be affiliated.
The NRLN has been an advocate for AUSWR members and other retirees in Washington, D.C. to gain legislation to better protect our pensions, benefits, Social Security and Medicare. The NRLN Utah Chapter will continue to monitor CenturyLink’s actions related to its retirees while it work with the NRLN to get laws enacted to safeguard what retirees have earned during their working years.
I represented our region in Washington, D.C. July 9 – 11 on a special initiative that has the potential of being very important to US West/Qwest/CenturyLink retirees. Those initiatives are de-risking of pension plans and pension plan funding disclosures. In June, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that Verizon retirees had filed because Verizon converted retirees pensions into a Prudential annuity for about 40% of its salaried retirees. Once an annuity is purchased there is no longer any protection of retirement income security under federal laws and agencies. CenturyLink could take that same action. We need your support to be your eyes and ears on Washington, D.C. and CenturyLink.
The NRLN is advocating regulations and legislation to protect retirees in de-risking. The NRLN has produced a de-risking position paper with proposed changes in laws and regulations. Another new NRLN position paper identifies changes needed to Annual Funding Notices to provide pension plan participants a clearer picture of the true financial status of their pension plans. I and 13 other NRLN, retiree association and chapter leaders presented the de-risking and disclosure proposals in meetings with the Assistant Secretary of Labor and senior staff members of Congressional committees with jurisdiction over pension issues. I also had meetings with Legislative Assistants to Rep. Chris Stewart (UT-2) and Rep. Raul Labrador (ID-1) to advocate NRLN legislative initiatives.
Other Top NRLN Legislative Initiatives
- Protect Social Security and Medicare through modest increases in the payroll tax and temporarily suspending the ceiling on earnings that can be taxed until such time the trust funds are actuarially funded.
- Lobbying to Reduce the Cost of Prescription Drugs through legislation that (1) Enables importation of safe prescription drugs; (2) Enables Medicare to take competitive bids for prescription drugs; (3) Funds the FDA to reduce generic drug approval backlogs; (4) Prevents drug companies from colluding to control pricing.
- Protection of Pension Assets by stopping corporations from using pension assets for non-pension expenses.
- Corporate Bankruptcy Reform so retirees' pensions and benefits are obligations companies can’t shed.
- Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. Reform to ensure equitable calculations of benefit payments to retirees.
- Protection of Retirees in Mergers, Acquisitions & Spin-Offs: Pass legislation that clarifies what a parent foreign owner’s pension plan obligations are and require that Plan fiduciaries should be American citizens.
Other Benefits of Being an NRLN Utah Chapter Member
- You will receive the NRLN FOCUS Newsletter three times a year with a page for news specific to Utah.
- Those AUSWR members with email addresses have been receiving NRLN Action Alerts and other retirement-related messages this will continue. Plus, there will be periodic emails from me.
- The Utah Chapter has a dedicated page on the NRLN website at www.nrln.org to address members' issues. Click the “NRLN Chapters” tab and select “Utah Chapter”.
- You can be an active grassroots member to communicate to Utah U.S. Representatives and Senators what they should be doing for retirement income security and reducing the cost of health care.
- NRLN Utah Congressional District Leaders will be available as a resource for questions and assistance.
- The NRLN has a dedicated a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. and along with other NRLN leaders and members meets regularly with key Congressional committee staff members to advocate the NRLN’s legislative initiatives. Your Support Important to NRLN Utah Chapter.