Miller Posts United Pension 'E-Hearing" Testimony

June 15, 2005 ( - A US House Democrat has released comments filed by more than 2,000 retirees and employees of United Airlines as part of a novel "e-hearing" on the air carrier's plans to turn its four pension plans over to the nation's private pension insurer.

>US Representative George Miller (D-California), ranking minority member of the US House Education and the Workforce Committee, said in a statement released with  the United comments  that 400 of the statements have also been posted on  a Web site maintained by the committee Democrats and will ultimately be published in the Congressional Record.

>A US Bankruptcy judge inChicago approved a plan May 10 for United to turn over the pension plans to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) in a move widely derided by worker rights groups (See  United Pension Hearing Delayed, But Okayed By Court ). The PBGC agreed to assume $6.6 billion in United’s pension liabilities.

“The last thing that I thought was that I would depend on Social Security as the cornerstone of my retirement,” John Pinto Jr. ofAnnapolis, Maryland, wrote in response to Miller’s call for public comment on the United situation (See  Miller Takes Pension Hearings to the Web ). “The decision by (Bankruptcy) Judge Eugene Wedoff to allow United Airlines to terminate its pension plans has put our family in that exact position.”

>Miller and Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) also have collected nearly 100 cosponsors for HR 2327, which would impose a six-month moratorium on corporate terminations of pension plans in cases in which reorganization of contributing sponsors is sought in bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings (See    Congressmen Move to Slow Pension Shifts to PBGC ). Miller said that the bill is intended to prevent companies, including United, from terminating their pension plans long enough to give Congress time to enact comprehensive reforms and help United employees.