August 11, 2005

The Honorable Michael Enzi
United States Senate
379A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Enzi:

On July 22, 2005, I sent a letter to members of the Senate Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee to express the National Retiree Legislative Network’s position to only include cash balance provisions that adequately protect older workers in any pension reform legislation that might be drafted by the Senate HELP Committee. This issue is so important to the nearly 2 million NRLN members that I feel obligated to write to you again.

I know that corporate lobbyists have been urging the Senate HELP Committee members to adopt the House Education and the Workforce Committee bills (HR 2830 and HR 2831) that state future cash balance plans are not age discriminatory. And the corporate lobbyists want to go even further by adding provisions in your bill that would in effect say that cash balance plans have never been age discriminatory. These provisions are totally unacceptable to the NRLN.

To be blunt, HR 2830 and HR 2831 are terrible bills and if they were to be applied retroactively they would be even worse. These bills don’t have any protections for workers and if they were retroactive only corporations would be helped. It would be deplorable for the Senate HELP Committee to seriously contemplate cash balance retroactivity provisions that would not add benefits for employees.

The NRLN supports S. 219, the National Employee Savings and Trust Equity Guarantee (NESTEG) Act. It provides a good foundation for meaningful pension reforms that will go a long way toward addressing America’s pension crisis. S. 1304, the Pension Benefit Protection Act of 2005, that is assigned to the Senate HELP Committee has some redeeming qualities. It provides minimum protections for older workers, such as giving certain employees a choice at retirement between the old and new pension plans. This bill also prohibits the practice of “wear-away” where companies can freeze or reduce older employees benefits for a period of time.

Many members of the NRLN are retired executives from America’s largest corporations. Given the climate that has developed in corporate America today, we want to guard against any attempt by our successors to break promises to workers and retirees. You can help guide corporations in the right direction by only supporting cash balance plans that are non-discriminatory on age and are not retroactive.

As I offered in my previous letter, the NRLN has representatives in Washington who are available to meet with you, your staff or Senate HELP Committee staffers. To gain additional insights into the changes that retirees believe are necessary for pension reform, please contact Marta Bascom at 703-863-9611 or marta.bascom@linkspace.net. I hope you’ll take us up on this offer.

Sincerely,


A. J. (Jim) Norby
NRLN President

Copy to: HELP Committee Members
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Richard Burr (R-NC)
Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)
Mike DeWine (R-OH)
Christopher Dodd (D-CT)
John Ensign (R-NV)
Bill Frist (R-TN)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
James Jeffords (I-VT)
Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Jeff Sessions (R-AL)