US - Democrat representatives George Miller and Jan Schakowsky have filed an amicus brief with the US District Court in support of the Association of Flight Attendants, which is seeking an injunction against the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's (PBGC) agreement with United Airlines to terminate four of its pension plans.
The brief argues that the agreement undercuts the statutory framework for plan terminations laid out by Congress in federal pensions laws and urges the court to enjoin the federal insurer from proceeding with the agreement.
The brief, filed in the US District Court for the district of Columbia, states: “Over the years, Congress has consistently narrowed the circumstances under which an employer may terminate a pension plan. As plaintiff correctly points out, Congress passed the Single-Employer Pension Plan Amendment Act (SEPPAA) to impose greater restrictions on employer-initiated voluntary terminations, including respect for the collective bargaining rights of affected employees under ERISA 4041(a)(3).
It continued: “Those restrictions are rendered meaningless if an employer may avoid exhausting good-faith bargaining with its employees’ representatives and avoid obtaining judicial approval of any voluntary termination and instead bargain with the PBGC to ‘initiate termination proceedings’. In this case, the PBGC and United have negotiated away the statutory framework for pension plan terminations with an agreement that is clearly outside the bounds of either party’s authority.
“The court should not permit United and the PBGC to conspire to undermine the already on-going voluntary termination process and thereby exclude the interests of participants that Congress had sought to protect in the bankruptcy and plan termination processes.”
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