First Online Congressional Hearing Examines Pensions
May 24, 2005
United Flight Attendants Plead Case for Moratorium on Plan Terminations
CHICAGO - The first ever online Congressional hearing got underway today, as United Airlines flight attendants submitted testimony via the Internet seeking a moratorium on the termination of defined benefit pension plans. Congressman George Miller (D-CA) is sponsoring the hearing and legislation, HR 2327, a bill that would impose a 6-month ban on pension terminations.
"On Tuesday, May 10, 2005 over 26,000 active and retired United Flight Attendants, represented by AFA, had their hard-earned pension benefits thrown into doubt," testified Greg Davidowitch, President of the Master Executive Council the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO at United Airlines. "Our plan is viable; termination is not necessary."
In all, over 100,000 United employees and retirees were affected when the federal bankruptcy court approved the agreement between the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) and United Airlines for $1.5 billion payment to terminate all employee pension plans. "United management's backroom deal with the PBGC skirted our rights under the bankruptcy and pension laws and threatens to trigger the collapse of defined benefit pension plans nationwide," said Davidowitch. "Over two-thirds of our members stand to lose half of their modest pensions."
Representative Miller's online hearing is scheduled to continue through Friday, May 27. United flight attendants have testified that the company's decision to terminate their pension plan has forced them to look for new jobs. Others have testified that the resulting cuts will jeopardize their retirement security, affecting their families' well-being.
"I am presently the primary caretaker of my 89 year old mother," testified Joe Gillick, a 29-year veteran flight attendant. "With ever increasing healthcare and home care expenses, my mother and myself are just two out of countless thousands of citizens who will be unquestionably harmed and placed in dire financial circumstances" if the flight attendant pension plan is terminated and benefits are reduced.
More than 46,000 Flight Attendants, including the 20,000 Flight Attendants at United, join together to form AFA, the world's largest Flight Attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000 member strong Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO. Visit us at http://www.unitedafa.org/.