A group of lawmakers Oct. 7 introduced the Clinton administration's proposal that would require companies to give workers better information when they reduce future pension benefits in cash balance conversions.
The "Pension Reduction Disclosure Act" would require companies to inform workers about the changes at least 45 days ahead and give examples of how specific groups, such as those older than 50, would be affected. The examples would include comparisons with benefits earned under the old plan; and the information would have to state if workers will not accrue any new benefits under the new plan for a period of years. Large companies also would have to describe the benefits formulas for the old and the new plans.
Workers also could request individual statements within a stated period of time.
But groups representing pension participants called the legislation "too little too late."
Karen Friedman, a spokeswoman for The Pension Rights Center, called the bill the equivalent of a "useless surgeon general's warning to employees." The legislation "cautions them that cash balance plans may be hazardous to their wealth, but offers them no protections."