Preserving Benefits and Jobs
Friday, May 28, 2010
I am writing to express concern about misinformation that has been circulating regarding H.R. 3936, the Preserve Benefits and Jobs Act.
Some recent stories have referred to this proposal as a
"union bailout" of "union plans". In fact, contributions to various multiemployer plans are funded entirely by employers, like Schnucks, not unions.
Like plans of all types, all have been negatively affected by the recent financial crisis. Certain multiemployer plans,however, have been particularly hard hit as the crisis has exacerbated long-term funding problems resulting from shifting demographic trends and financial problems within certain industries. Admittedly, this is a difficult problem that will require difficult solutions.
The current proposal (H.R. 3936) aims to correct problems associated with joint and several liability rules that govern these plans. Because of the nature of multiemployer plans, when one employer goes bankrupt, the remaining employers in the plan end up being responsible for paying the accrued benefits of all the workers -- the "last man standing". As the number of employer participants dwindles, remaining participant employers , like Schnucks, see their liabilites increase exponentially -- forcing them to cover retirees that never worked for those employers, or never even worked in the same industry. H.R. 3936 aims to address this inadequacy in the law, making these plans more stable for both employers and employees.
Without a real solution to this problem, more employers with be forced into bankruptcy and more workers will be left without a secure retirement . Schnucks appreciates the real work of those members of Congress, like Congresswoman Joanne Emerson, who are working to find appropriate solutions and resolve these issues as soon as possible.