On July 7, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama issued a ruling in Perfection Bakeries Inc. v. Retail Wholesale & Dep’t Store Int’l Union & Indus. Pension Fund, ordering Perfection Bakery, Inc. (Perfection Bakery) to pay the Retail Wholesale and Department Store International Union and Industry Pension Fund (the Fund) withdrawal liability in the amount of $15.6 million.
The court affirmed the previously issued arbitrator’s decision regarding the amount of withdrawal liability Perfection Bakery owed the Fund for its 2018 complete withdrawal. Perfection Bakery argued that the partial withdrawal liability it had paid as a result of its 2016 partial withdrawal should count towards the 2018 total withdrawal liability to reduce the total liability overhead cost. Perfection Bakery argued that the Fund, by not doing so, had misinterpreted the applicable law governing withdrawal liability.
Continue reading “You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat it, Too”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently ruled that Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund may continue its lawsuit against Transervice Logistics, Inc. and Zenith Logistics, Inc. seeking allegedly outstanding pension fund contributions. The case examined two consolidated appeals, each involving a nearly identical collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between each employer and a union, and trust agreements between each employer and the plaintiff fund. The court was asked to determine whether the employers were required to maintain contributions to a multiemployer pension plan pursuant to so-called “evergreen clauses” that renewed the CBAs each year unless timely terminated.
The CBAs obligated the employers to make pension fund contributions to plaintiff, making the fund a third-party beneficiary of the agreements. The trust agreements obligated the employers to contribute to the fund for the “entire term of any collective bargaining agreement… (including any extension of a collective bargaining agreement through an evergreen clause…).” The CBAs were set to expire on January 31, 2019 but contained evergreen clauses that renewed the CBAs each year unless terminated with 60 days’ notice.
Continue reading “Multiemployer Pension Plan Alert: Evergreen Clauses May Trump the Bargaining Parties’ Subsequent Agreement”
On October 14, 2022, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) proposed a new regulation under ERISA Section 4213(a)(2) setting forth actuarial assumptions that a multiemployer pension plan may use in calculating an employer’s withdrawal liability. A PDF of the proposed rule can be found here.
Background on Withdrawal Liability
Under ERISA § 4213(c), an employer withdrawing from a multiemployer pension plan must pay the plan its proportional share of the plan’s unfunded vested benefits, which is the difference between the present value of the plan’s nonforfeitable vested benefits and the value of the plan’s assets. The plan’s actuary must employ a variety of assumptions to calculate the withdrawing employer’s liability, such as how long employees will work and how long retirees will live (both of which affect the value of the benefits the plan must pay in the future).
Continue reading “PBGC Announces Proposed Rule on Interest Rate Assumptions for Multiemployer Plan Withdrawal Liability”
The withdrawal liability case of the year came to an anticlimactic end on Monday, September 16, 2019, as the Second Circuit docket sheet of New York Times Company v. Newspaper and Mail Deliverers’ Publishers’ Pension Fund pinged to life with a stipulation withdrawing the case with prejudice.
The most-watched issue in the case was a challenge to the Segal Blend discount rate assumption used by many multiemployer pension plans to calculate employer withdrawal liability. The discount rate assumption can have a massive effect on an employer’s withdrawal liability as even a small variation can dramatically increase a withdrawal calculation.
Continue reading “In with a Bang and Out with a Whimper: Second Circuit Challenge to Popular Withdrawal Liability Calculation Method Settles”