Delta Air Lines employees recently visited Capitol Hill to present petitions to members in the
House and Senate from Kentucky, Ohio and Utah asking for their support on
pension reform legislation. The petitions were signed by more than 12,000
employees and retirees in support of S. 861 and H.R. 2106, the Employee
Pension Preservation and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2005.“We commend our employees, retirees and the Air Line Pilots Association
who have worked tirelessly to educate Congress on the importance of passing
airline-specific pension reform legislation during the current session,” said
Scott Yohe, senior vice president of Government Affairs for Delta. “The
success that we have had in generating support in Congress is directly
attributable to their efforts.”
Among the Senate offices being visited today include: Mitch McConnell
(R-KY); Mike DeWine (R-OH); Orrin Hatch (R-UT); George Voinovich (R-OH);
Robert Bennett (R-UT); and Jim Bunning (R-KY). On the House side, employees
visited Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT); Chris Cannon (R-UT); Jim Matheson (D-UT);
Geoff Davis (R-KY); and Steve Chabot (R-OH).
Delta, its employees and retirees have supported bills introduced in April
by Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WVA) in the Senate and Rep.
Tom Price (R-GA) in the House. Under these bills, airlines are given the
ability to fund pension obligations to their employees over 25 years, using
more stable, long-term assumptions. In return, airlines would agree to limit
pension liabilities by freezing pension benefits and could choose to offer
more manageable defined contribution plans, such as a 401(k).
With a permanent solution, airline employees have a greater likelihood of
receiving the full benefits they accrued prior to a freeze. Airlines can keep
their benefit commitments while continuing to work toward a more competitive
cost structure. And the federal government benefits because the bills would
minimize the need for airlines to shift liabilities to the already burdened
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) and decrease the chances of a taxpayer
rescue of the PBGC. The airlines are not asking for a financial bailout—
just more time to meet their pension obligations.