Judge Extends TRO on Pension Merger

April 11, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A U.S. district court judge extended his temporary restraining order on the merger of two pensions at The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News.

According to the Associated Press, Judge Berle Schiller, who issued the ruling late Thursday, extended the order until May 23. It would not unravel the pensions’ merger, but would stop the papers’ owner from commingling their assets, according to the report.

The Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia is suing Philadelphia Newspapers LLC, a unit of Philadelphia Media Holdings, for merging two pensions without its consent. The Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia has charged that one plan is severely underfunded and would endanger the health of the second pension.   The lawsuit claims that the merger’s only purpose was to bail out the underfunded North Broad Street plan “without regard” to the participants of the Guild’s healthier pension fund (see  Newspaper Union Moves To Block Pension Merger ).

As of March 1, the Guild pension plan was fully funded with assets of $193 million and liabilities of $180 million covering 2,344 members. On the other hand, the North Broad pension, with nearly 900 members, was just 39% funded as of January 1, 2007, according to the report.