FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 4/11/06
For Information Contact:
A. J. (Jim) Norby Bill Kadereit Ed Beltram
760-200-2330 218-725-5289 719-687-6157
Retirees Network Organizes Grass Roots Campaign
For Pension Reform during Congressional Recess
Conference Committee Members in NRLN Cross Hairs
(WASHINGTON, April 11, 2006) – A national retiree organization is taking its fight for pension reform legislation to the home districts of U.S. senators and congressional representatives during their district work period April 10 - 23.
“We’re calling on individual workers and retirees to personally meet with their congressional representatives while they’re back home to discuss pension reform legislation before it is voted out of the conference committee,” announced A. J. “Jim” Norby, president of the National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN).
“The conference committee on pension reform and then the House and Senate need to move forward on legislation that is in the best interests of workers and retirees,” Norby said. “That’s why we’re especially focusing on the 27 senators and representatives on the conference committee, urging them to oppose those measures in the pending legislation that support special corporate interests over the best interests of workers and retirees.”
Specific issues of concern to NRLN members involve:
· Any effort to retroactively legalize the conversions to cash balance plans that have resulted in older workers suffering the “wearaway” of pension benefits earned through years of labor. A number of companies have scrapped their defined benefit pension plans and converted to cash balance plans that have reduced pension benefits by as much as 50 percent for some workers. Now these companies are lobbying Congress for protection from employees’ and retirees’ lawsuits.
· Efforts by corporate lobbyists to make it easier for employers to take money out of their pension plans. Currently, only companies that have pension plans that are 25 percent overfunded are allowed to remove the “surplus” to use for retirees’ health care insurance. Corporate lobbyists want to lower the “surplus” limit to 15 percent.
“Our members are also pressing for stronger pension plan disclosure requirements so workers and retirees can more fully evaluate the financial condition of their plans,” Norby noted. “And we’re supporting rules to require that investment advisors for 401K plans have no potential conflicts of interest.”
According to Norby, more than 11,000 letters supporting these pension reform issues have been sent to legislators from NRLN members from their home districts over the past 30 days.
“Members of Congress are covered under a pension plan that is secured by the very taxpayers who are now being stripped of their retirement benefits by their former employers,” Norby added. “These recess meetings with our congressional representatives could well determine whether they decide in the best interest of workers and retirees, or side with the corporate lobbyists who are swarming on Capitol Hill.”
Based in Washington, D.C., NRLN is dedicated to securing federal legislation that will guarantee the fair and equitable treatment of retirees in private and public sector health and pension programs. NRLN represents a non-partisan, grass roots coalition of retiree associations with a combined membership of more than 2 million men and women who are seeking to protect their pension and health care benefits. For more information, visit the NRLN Web site at www.nrln.org.
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