President Donald Trump has ordered the secretary of the Treasury, the secretary of commerce and the secretary of labor, in consultation with the assistant to the president for trade and manufacturing policy, to review defined benefit (DB) pension plans currently trusteed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PGCG).
As Trump’s memorandum notes, after auto parts maker Delphi went bankrupt, thousands of salaried and non-unionized Delphi workers had their pension plan terminated and trusteeship was transferred to the PBGC. Benefits paid by the PBGC are subject to statutory limits, meaning some employees’ retirement benefits might have been reduced.
Delphi workers’ unionized colleagues were able to keep their full pensions through a deal with General Motors. A group of salaried and non-unionized Delphi retirees who did not benefit from their unionized colleagues’ deal has spent the last decade in legal and financial limbo as the retirees challenged the termination of their pension plan in the federal courts. That litigation remains ongoing, and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a District Court’s decision granting summary judgment against the retirees.
The memorandum first orders the Treasury, Commerce and Labor Departments to review the Delphi matter and inform the president within 90 days of the date of the memo of any appropriate action that may be taken, consistent with applicable law, to address affected Delphi retirees’ lost pension benefits and to bring additional transparency to the decision to terminate the plan. “This review shall include an evaluation of the feasibility of enacting legislation and whether the plan may be restored to its pre-termination status under Section 1347 of Title 29, United States Code,” the document says. Title 29 of the United States Code is a code that outlines labor regulations in the United States.
Trump’s memo then ordered the three departments to review the pension plans presently held in trusteeship by the PBGC and inform him within 180 days of the date of the memorandum of any appropriate action that may be taken consistent with applicable law. “Actions may include proposing legislation that appropriately balances the interests of all those covered by the pension system—from retirees, workers, employers and unions, to plans and taxpayers—to address the insolvency of such plans and to maintain the future solvency of the PBGC’s Single-Employer and Multi-Employer Programs,” the memorandum states.
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