NRLN News Update

New Proposals For Helping Older Workers And Retirees


At its Washington, D.C. conference at the end of January 2003, NRLN’s Board of Directors approved the broadening of NRLN’s mission statement to include not only securing the protection of retiree health benefits (i.e., enactment of HR1322, The emergency Retiree Health Benefits Protection Act), but also immunizing older workers against highly adverse changes to private pension plan design and inflation proofing retirement income derived from such plans.


As to safeguarding older workers, NRLN’s Board of Directors took note of the fact that, as a group, such workers have sustained a substantial loss of valuable pension benefits as a result of the growing corporate practice of converting traditional defined benefit plans into so-called “cash balance” plans. Because of the recent cancellation of the IRS moratorium on approving new cash balance conversions, it is anticipated that many more such conversions will be attempted, with an even greater adverse impact on older workers. The Board therefore authorized the priority development of a legislative initiative that would prevent corporations from taking unfair advantage of older workers when the companies suddenly switch to inferior pension plans.


In addition, the Board decided that it was essential to address the rapid erosion of pension purchasing power that had occurred recently. It was brought to the Board’s attention that most of this decline had occurred during the same period that high-ranking company executives had used the financial strength of their retiree pension funds, together with questionable accounting practices, to justify awarding themselves extravagant cash bonuses and stock options. The Board directed the drafting of legislation that would curb this type of abuse and assure that retirees obtain adequate inflation protection for their pensions without jeopardizing the maintenance of soundly funded plans.


NRLN encourages all older workers and retirees interested in obtaining retiree health, plan conversion or inflation protection relief to join NRLN and support NRLN’s legislative agenda. Keep visiting this website for further updates on NRLN’s legislative activity and let NRLN know your views. Together, older workers and retirees can make a difference.