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601 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Suite 900, South Building
Washington, D.C.  20004-2601
Tel: 202-220-3172
Fax: 202-639-8238
www.NRLN.org

Board of Directors:

A. J. (Jim) Norby President
Bill Kadereit
Vice President,
Legislative Affairs
 
John Leasher
Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer  

JoAnn Alix-Gagain
 Jane Banfield
James Burns
Joseph R. (Dick) Ciocca
Robert Foresta
Chuck Gilbert 

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Counsel:
Michael Calabrese
Phyllis Borzi

Legislative Counsel:
Marta Bascom

Media Relations Director:
 Ed Beltram 

Webmaster:
Joe Sciulli

Member Organizations:

Aetna Retirees Association
Ameritech/SBC Retirees
AT&T Retirees (ACE)
Boeing/SPEEA Retirees (Engineering Society)
CWA-CUTW Retirees
Daimler-Chrysler Retirees Association
Detroit Edison Alliance of  Retirees (DEAR)
GM Retirees-Detroit Diesel
IBM Retirees
Johns Manville Retirees
Lucent Retirees Organization Monsanto/Solutia Retirees
NAPRI (Prudential)
NWB/US WEST/Qwest Retiree Association
Portland GE-Enron
Southern New England Tell  Retirees Association, Inc. (SRA)
TelCo Retirees Association

 

 
October 17, 2007

 

The Honorable Edward Kennedy, Chairman
Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
United States Senate
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-2101

Dear Senator Kennedy:

The leaders of the 17 retiree associations affiliated with the National Retiree Legislative Network have read with grave concern the news reports that some financial firms are attempting to clear a regulatory path that would allow them to buy out corporate-sponsored pension plans that are the livelihood of millions of retired Americans. We cannot help but be suspicious that this is a profit-driven motive and is not in the best interest of retirees.

Just a little over a year ago, Congress passed the Pension Security Act of 2006 that provides stronger protections for pension plans and requires more disclosure on the financial status of pension trust funds. Given all of the effort that went into the Act by lawmakers, retiree groups and other interested parties, the NRLNís some 2 million members expect their elected representatives to keep a watchful eye on the financial firms and the federal agencies that are reviewing the buyout proposals.

This issue is too important to be left up to Washington bureaucrats who are not accountable to voters, millions of whom are retirees who spent decades earning their pensions from their former corporate employers. Agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Labor Departmentís Employee Benefits Security Administration should not be allowed to tinker with the Congressional intent of ERISA.

The NRLN believes that the proposed buyouts of corporate pension plans that have some $2.3 trillion in assets are a dangerous idea that would lead to diminished pension benefits. Shareowners of financial companies would expects executives to maximize profits and the firms would have no loyalty to retirees and the employees who will be future retirees. It is unlikely that any surplus in the pension plans would be applied to the benefit of the plan participants. Cost-of-living increases to retirees would most likely totally disappear.
NRLN members request that you inform the agencies that are reviewing the buyout proposals that corporate-sponsored pensions are too important to your retired constituents to be turned over to financial firms with no moral allegiance to retirees.
Sincerely yours,

President, National Retiree Legislative Network