FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Pension Rights

Over thirty years ago, I started the Pension Rights Center which concerned itself with such issues as shortening the time of corporate pensions vesting or improving their portability for job-changing employees. No one nightmared that companies would dramatically cut their contributions to these defined benefit plans during years of economic growth and record company profits. That is not the least of a trail of broken promises by these vastly overpaid corporate executives (with their gigantic special pensions) to their loyal workers.

Recently, employees from some major corporations highlighted some of the tricky ways these bosses are betraying the people who made their companies perform and profit. Under the name of the “Ad Hoc Coalition to Restore Retirement Security,” five broken promises were described.

First, companies broke promises to older employees by unfairly changing plan rules. AT&T, for example, was one of several large firms, to switch to a “cash balance” pension plan costing long-service salaried employees as much as half of their expected pensions. The employees want a federal law change to give them a “choice at retirement between receiving their promised pensions and those offered under any new rules.”

Second, Dresser-Rand was a division of Halliburton until the parent company sold it. Seemed pretty routine. Later, the Dresser employees learned that a loophole in the law allowed Halliburton to shift the pension funds into a plan for its own employees. This maneuver left the spun-off employees without their full early retirement pensions. They want to end the loophole where pensions can be devastated merely by selling a subsidiary to another owner.

Third, companies break pension promises to older employees by reclassifying them as independent contractors. Allstate did this to their insurance agents, who were on staff. The agents fought back, filing a law suit claiming that Allstate unlawfully deprived them of much of their pensions.

Fourth, GM resorted to the “fine print” to cutback or even cancel lifetime health insurance for its retirees if they accepted early retirement packages. Changing the rules after people have retired should be prohibited, say these workers.

Fifth, MCI/WorldCom employees trusted their executives when told that the company stock was a sound investment for their 401(k) plans. Actually, these executives knew the company was inflating its books while these bosses were selling their own company stock at the same time. Once again, gaps in the law need to be filled to allow for full remedies against such self-enriching deception at the top.

Obviously, these are devastating times for millions of workers who retired believing and found out that their company leaders were lying. One wonders why Congress is taking so long to amending the federal pension laws to prevent such sabotage of loyal workers. But then, the bosses are more likely to get their calls returned by many members of Congress than these employees.

But these veteran employees have organized. They need to expand their organizations to other companies where workers face similar trapdoors.

For further information, go to www.pensions-r-us.org

 

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail