April 20, 2005
ALPA Welcomes Pension Reform Legislation, Urges Quick Action
WASHINGTON, D.C.---The following statement was issued today by Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) in response to the introduction by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), of the "Employee Pension Preservation Act of 2005" (S. 861), a bill that would reform the outmoded pension rules that threaten the economic viability of airlines. The bill was co-sponsored by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).
"The 'Employee Pension Preservation Act of 2005' (S. 861) comes not a minute too soon, and ALPA applauds Senator Isakson, as well as Senator Rockefeller, for this bipartisan effort to support pilots and other airline workers. Airlines and their employees are facing a growing crisis regarding their defined benefit pension plans.
"Due to a combination of economic factors and outmoded pension rules, airlines are under tremendous pressure to freeze or terminate their defined benefit pension plans. Retirement benefits for tens of thousands of airline workers are now at risk.
"Furthermore, if the airlines do not receive the benefit of the reforms contained in the "Employee Pension Preservation Act of 2005" (S. 861), more airlines may be forced to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, putting additional airline employee jobs and their pension plans at risk. From the public policy perspective, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (and taxpayers) will face even greater pension liability exposure from terminated plans.
"The current pension funding rules actually increase the probability of failure, by forcing airlines to make massive deficit reduction contributions when they are struggling for their very survival. This bill would give airlines the breathing room they need to weather the current economic storm by spreading the payment schedules over a longer time frame, and allowing the use of more realistic interest rate assumptions. We urge Congress to move forward and enact the "Employee Pension Preservation Act of 2005" (S. 861) as quickly as possible."
For more information, view ALPA's issue brief on the web.
ALPA represents 64,000 airline pilots at 41 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Its website is www.alpa.org.
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ALPA CONTACTS: John Mazor, Linda Shotwell, (703) 481-4440, firstname.lastname@example.org.