The NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia

Pension plan is underfunded

July 8, 2010billrossInquirer

Dear Guild member,

Last week, we told you that the United Independent Union/Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia Pension Plan, along with virtually every multi-employer pension plan to which the Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC contribute, filed objections with the Bankruptcy Court to the Debtors confirmation plan, because the reorganization plan would have a detrimental impact on the pension plans’ abilities to pay their promised pensions.

Despite our objections, the bankruptcy court on Monday approved Philadelphia Newspapers reorganization plan which relieves Philadelphia Media Network, Inc, the successor company to Philadelphia Newspapers, of the obligation to contribute to any pension plan. The court dismissed a withdrawal liability of $58 million, which is the amount the fund actuary calculated the Debtor should contribute to the Pension Fund to cover the cost of accrued benefits for plan participants who are employed by the newspapers or are currently receiving retirement benefits.

Please be aware that our pension plan is underfunded, not unfunded.

The fund contains substantial assets to pay pension liabilities to current and future retirees for 20 years, as fund administrator Gabriel Zinni testified Monday in bankruptcy court. Our fund, like most other investments, took a significant hit in 2008, but is recovering steadily.

The plan trustees are exploring means to preserve and prolong the pension fund. By November the pension trustees must adapt a rehabilitation plan and will update the membership at that time.

In solidarity,

Dan Gross
Bill Ross
United Independent Union/Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia Pension Plan