Important to Meet with Members of Congress April 10 - 23 - issued 3/7/06
Yesterday (April 6), the U.S. House of Representatives passed on a vote of 248 to 178 a motion introduced by Congressman George Miller (D-CA) to instruct the House conferees on the Pension Reform Conference Committee to adopt the cash balance provisions of the Senate bill that protects older workers in cash balance conversions. This is evidence that the letters NRLN Grassroots Members and others have been sending to Representatives are being heeded. Although the House vote is a major step forward, the motion only addresses protecting older workers for future cash balance conversions but does not prevent the retroactive legalization of past cash balance conversions. We must continue to press the conferees and all members of Congress with our message for all of the improvements we want to see made in the pending pension reform legislation.
Congress will be in recess from April 10 - 23 for a "District Work Period." This presents what may well be the final opportunity for NRLN grassroots members to meet with Senators and Representatives to influence their decisions on pension reform legislation before it is voted out the of the Conference Committee and passed by the House and Senate.
I am asking you to immediately call in-state offices of your Senators and Representative to schedule a meeting when he/she is in your state or district during the next few weeks. If you can't gain an appointment, ask whether your legislator will be conducting a town hall meeting in your area that you might attend and briefly speak with the Senator or Representative. If this isn't an option, request a date and time for a phone conversation. Insist that it is important that you speak with your legislator about pension reform issues. If the Senator or Representative is totally unavailable to you, then ask for an appointment to meet with the office Chief of Staff.
You may obtain the phone numbers of in-state offices for your Senators and Representative by going to the NRLN Website at http://www.nrln.org and type your zip code in the "Write To Congress" box near the top of the page on the right. After you click "GO," the names and photos of your Senators and Representative will appear. Click on the "info" link under each photo to obtain office contact information.
There are two pension reform issues that are of primary importance for you to discuss with your legislators:
--Cash Balance Plans: Oppose any effort to retroactively legalize cash balance conversions and support the prospective provision in the Senate bill eliminating "wearaway" for normal and early retirement.
--Pension Fund Transfers: Oppose the provision in the Senate bill lowering from 125% to 115% the Section 420 threshold for transfers of money out of pension plans.
Measures of secondary importance that we would like to see in the pension reform legislation are:
--Pension Plan Disclosures: Strengthen pension plan disclosure requirements so workers and retirees can more fully evaluate the financial condition of their plan.
--Investment Advice: Set rules so that investment advisors for 401K plans have no potential conflicts of interest. Oppose the House provision on this issue.
Click here to see a brief document that you can use to become familiar with the issues to discuss with your legislators. Give the document to your legislator or senior staff member during your meeting as a reminder of what you want him/her to do. Before you print out the document, be sure to insert your name, where you live and the company from which you retired. Following your meeting it would be useful to the NRLN to learn how your legislator reacted to the issues you presented. Please take the time to email a brief report to NRLNpoint@msn.com .
There are 27 members on the Pension Reform Conference Committee. So you may determine whether any of your legislators are on the Conference Committee, the names of the conferees are listed below:
Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Edward Kennedy (D- MA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Trent Lott (R-MS), Max Baucus (D-MT), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Rick Santorum (R-PA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), John Rockefeller (D-WV) and Michael Enzi (R-WY).
House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R OH-8), Howard P. (Buck) McKeon (R CA-25), George Miller (D CA-7), William M. Thomas (R CA-22), Dave Camp (R MI-4), John Kline (R MN-2), Robert E. Andrews (D NJ-1), Donald M. Payne (D NJ-10), Charles B. Rangel (D NY-15), Patrick J. Tiberi (R OH-12) and Sam Johnson (R TX-3).
A meeting with your Senators and Representative could well determine whether he/she takes action in the best interest of workers and retirees on pension reforms or sides with the corporate lobbyists who are swarming on Capitol Hill. Also, if your legislators have not yet received a letter from you on pension reform issues, please go to http://capwiz.com/abtr/home and add your letters to the more than 11,000 that have been sent to Washington, DC since March 11. The sample letters are linked to the "click here" following the headline: MAKE IMPROVEMENTS TO PENSION REFORM LEGISLATION.
Thank you for your support.
Jim Norby, NRLN President