- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Op-Ed column by F. Vincent Vernuccio and Jeremy Lott attacking Rep. Earl Pomeroy’s pension proposal is a poor attempt to create political divisions at the expense of American businesses, employees and retirees (“Pomeroy’s lucre for labor,” Opinion, Oct. 7).

Mr. Pomeroy is not trying to “spin” anyone by saying employers are making an urgent plea for “manageable and predictable pension funding rules as the nation works [its] way back to recovery.” We are a group of businesses, and this is exactly the challenge we are asking Congress to address.

Our businesses participate in single and multiemployer plans, including the Central States Pension Fund (CSPF). Currently, the CSPF provides coverage for nearly 450,000 workers, retirees and spouses, paying almost $2.7 billion in benefits each year. Multiemployer pension funds are rarely discussed and often are misunderstood, in part because historically they have not had many problems.

Our businesses are in a variety of industries, including trucking, warehouse, grocery, dairy, bakery and soft drinks. Workers in these industries are mobile, and multiemployer plans were designed to be portable and follow them throughout their careers.

In this time of economic crisis, labor and management have joined together to protect the promises made to retirees and their families. The impact of the current economic downturn on both single and multiemployer pension plans has been devastating.

Since 1980, more than 700 employers that were contributing employers in the CSPF have declared bankruptcy. Under the rules that apply to multiemployer plans, the workers of those bankrupt companies became the obligation of the fund and the remaining businesses. Further complicating the matter, the bankrupt companies often paid little, if anything, toward their remaining liability.

The decline in the funding status of our nation’s pension plans could drive employer contributions sky-high in the years ahead, jeopardizing thousands of jobs.

Providing additional pension relief is an urgent matter. We thank Mr. Pomeroy for his leadership on this critical issue and encourage his colleagues - Republican and Democrat alike - to protect our nation’s retirement funds.

DANIEL J. CHURAY

Executive vice president, general counsel and secretary

YRC Worldwide Inc.

Overland Park, Kan.

MICHAEL R. JOHNS

Vice president and general counsel

ABF Freight System Inc.

Fort Smith, Ark.

JOHN WAGNER

President

The Association of Food and Dairy Retailers, Wholesalers and Manufacturers

Cincinnati, Ohio

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