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Pension Funds

Employers open to multiemployer loan program

Some employers support creating a federal loan program to help struggling multiemployer pension funds, witnesses told the bipartisan House and Senate Joint Select Committee on the Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans on Wednesday.

The Chamber of Commerce, which released a report Wednesday warning of the "catastrophic effect" of having plans collapse, is also concerned about a potential "contagion effect" that could risk healthy plans and non-union employees, said Aliya Wong, executive director of retirement policy.

"I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there is a growing concern from healthy plans," she said.

Chris Langan, vice president of finance for United Parcel Service Inc., told the panel that UPS officials "believe that long term, low-interest-rate loans are a viable option," adding, "there are ways to protect taxpayers as well."

The loan program idea is also seen as a way to prevent the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.'s multiemployer program from insolvency. Ms. Wong told committee members that her members were not interested in talking about raising PBGC premiums to shore up that program at this point.

Committee co-Chair Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said they will hold two more hearings in Washington and one in the field to hear from workers, employees and retirees, before negotiating a solution by the end of July.

"We all have to put our talking points and biases aside and take what we are learning to craft a bipartisan solution," Mr. Brown said.