W.R. Grace & Co., Columbia, Md., is asking the bankruptcy court overseeing its Chapter 11 case to approve $7.9 million in one-time lump-sum payments to two of its union pension plans to avoid "labor discord and morale problems," according to court documents. The company would contribute about $6.6 million and $1.3 million, respectively, to plans at the firm's Lake Charles, La., and Chattanooga, Tenn., plants. W.R. Grace would make the contributions as part of collective bargaining agreements negotiated earlier this year and in 2004.
The Lake Charles plan had about $13.1 million in assets and $17.4 million in liabilities as of Jan. 1, according to court papers. The Chattanooga plan had about $3 million in assets and $3.6 million in liabilities at the same date. Overall, W.R. Grace had $891.4 million in pension assets as of Dec. 31, according to the company's annual report. The plans were underfunded by $549.1 million at the end of 2004, the annual report said.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., will consider the matter June 27. Interested parties may file objections through June 10. W.R. Grace has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since April 2001.