The PBGC expects to take over United Airlines' Flight Attendants' Defined Benefit Pension Plan and Management, Administrative and Public Contact Defined Benefit Pension Plan on June 30, said Gary Pastorius, a PBGC spokesman. The flight attendants' plan has $1.35 billion in assets and $3.39 billion in liabilities, and the MA&PC plan has $1.44 billion in assets and $3.95 billion in liabilities, according to PBGC estimates. The agency estimates it will be responsible for about $3.52 billion in combined unfunded liabilities for the two plans, $1.76 billion for each.
Sara Nelson Dela Cruz, spokeswoman for the United Master Executive Council of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, said termination of the pension plan would constitute a "unilateral change" under the flight attendants' contract and would give the union a legal right to initiate strikes. The flight attendants' union has appeals pending in two courts related to the agreement between United and the PBGC.
Many workers under the MA&PC plan are represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. IAM spokesman Joseph Tiberi did not return a call by press time seeking comment. United spokeswoman Jean Medina said company officials believe the agreement with the PBGC is "appropriate and legal."
Separately, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and legislators were scheduled to offer an amendment today that would prevent the PBGC from using funds to carry out its agreement to terminate United's pension plans, according to a news release issued by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The amendment will be offered to the fiscal 2006 spending bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, which includes funding for the PBGC, the release said, noting the House was slated to take up the bill today.