Hill Letter on Multiemployer Funding Issues
November 4, 2003
The Honorable Judd Gregg
Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
SD-428 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-6300
Dear Chairman Gregg:
As you examine the difficult issues surrounding the funding of multiemployer plans, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would like to offer support for your efforts and address a few of our concerns. The Chamber supports the temporary suspension of the amortization of recent investment losses, but believes that this temporary relief should be combined with a permanent restriction on increasing benefits when a plan is below a certain, relatively high, funding level. However, we are greatly concerned that attempting to enact multi-employer funding provisions at this time, absent the agreement of all affected parties, will jeopardize the enactment of legislation to swiftly address the defined benefit 30-year Treasury bond funding issue, an area in which you have also dedicated much time and resources.
Companies participating in multiemployer plans are facing tremendous financial pressures from many sources resulting from both short-term and long-term issues. We believe that it is important to address both of these issues simultaneously, even if only as a starting point for future deliberation. It is our position that implementing temporary relief without addressing the long-term issue of multiemployer funding would be a disservice to all parties interested in the continued viability of multiemployer plans.
Due to these short and long-term concerns, multiemployer funding issues are very complex and require a balancing of various interests. If a consensus on multiemployer funding legislation is not possible, then the wisest course of action may be to delay consideration of this issue until next year in order not to impede the swift progress of the resolution of the 30-year Treasury rate fix.
In closing, we appreciate your attention to this very important issue, and to the 30-year Treasury legislation, and look forward to continuing to work with you to address funding issues affecting all defined benefit plans.
R. Bruce Josten
Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
U.S. Chamber of Commerce