New York State Senator Tony Avella will introduce legislation in the upcoming session designed to protect retirees whose pensions are sold off without advance notice. Once known as “pension de-risking” retirees refer to this method of transferring the financial risk of pensions from corporations to retirees as “pension stripping”. The method of pension stripping that seems to be the corporate favorite converts a pension into a group annuity contract causing retirees to lose the uniform protections intended by Congress under ERISA including the annual coverage provided by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The proposed legislation is designed to replace the protections for earned benefits that were intended under ERISA with reasonably equivalent protection at the state level.
The corporate desire to shed pension obligations went into over-drive in 2012 with pension de-risking transactions by Ford, General Motors and Verizon. The pension de-risking trend allowed these corporations to eliminate their obligations to their retirees by billions of dollars. In his column published in the Hanford Sentinel on August 21, 2013 columnist Dennis Beaver answers his reader’s questions about pension de-risking and passes along Eddie Stone’s advice: “For your readers who are covered by a pension and looking forward to a comfortable retirement, I have a warning. Employers across this country have made promises to their employees which will not be honored. Simply stated, pension liabilities dramatically exceed their assets….This is a time when all present employees and retirees need to be aware of what is happening with their pension…”
Many major corporations have begun to pursue “de-risking” strategies and retirees are the victims, losing pension benfits and ERISA protections without their consent. In this video featuring Edward Stone and Jack Cohen, a leading retiree advocate from ProtectSeniors.org, Stone and Cohen explain the dangerous impact of these “de-risking” transactions.
A federal court in Dallas, Texas has certified a class action on behalf of Verizon pension beneficiaries, permitting 41,000 retirees to sue as a group over the transfer of their pension benefits to Prudential Insurance Company of America.
Edward Stone testified at a public hearing in support of HB 6148 before the Connecticut Labor and Public Employees Committee . The proposed legislation seeks protections for retirees in pension de-risking transactions.
Verizon Retirees Sue to Block Pension-Risk Transfer – Verizon’s transfer of its pension obligations to 41,000 retirees to Prudential stripped the retirees of the protections afforded them under ERISA and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).