US - The Democrats have launched what is believed to be the first ever online hearing by the House of Representatives into United Airline's decision to terminate four of its pension plans.
Representatives George Miller and Jan Schakowsky have launched the “e-hearing” in response to what they call failure by Congress to hold hearings on issues of major national importance.
Witnesses have until Friday to submit testimony by visiting the hearing web site. Miller’s office has solicited testimony from United retirees, employees, management, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and others and staff plan to write and distribute a report based on their testimony to be entered into the Congressional Record.
“The goal of this online hearing is to provide a voice to those who will otherwise not have a chance to be heard in the Congress under the current Republican leadership,” said Schakowsky. “If we do not do something now, not only are United employees at risk, but so are the millions of other employees whose companies may follow United’s lead and dump their pension plans.”
The hearing is the latest in a string of attempts by Miller and Schakowsky to stop United from offloading an estimated US$6bn in pension liabilities to the PBGC.
The Democrat representatives recently introduced stop gap legislation to prevent bankrupt companies from shifting their pension liabilities to the federal government for the next six months. Miller has also written to Bradley Belt, head of the PBGC, asking him to hold off on the plan transfers.
Miller and Schakowsky believe the PBGC takeover would result in an average 25% to 50% benefit cut for most of United’s active and retired employees.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has granted 11 master trusts extensions to apply for authorisation, as it confirms it has received 22 applications ahead of the 31 March deadline.
Aegon Master Trust, Fidelity Master Trust and Ensign have sent off their authorisation applications to The Pensions Regulator (TPR).
Self-administered pension funds spent £15bn on payments to pensioners in Q4 2018, but received just £12bn in contributions (net of refunds), Office for National Statistics (ONS) data reveals.
Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI) and Gresham House are to team up to form a joint venture.