March 19, 2018

March 19, 2018

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Treasury Approves Second MPRA Application

On July 20, the Nashville-based United Furniture Workers Pension Fund A (the Fund) became the second multiemployer pension plan to receive the US Department of the Treasury’s approval to suspend benefits under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA). This is the first application approved under the Trump administration.

The Fund, which withdrew and resubmitted its application on March 15, 2017, proposed reducing all 9,900 participants and beneficiaries’ benefits to the maximum extent allowed by MPRA (i.e., to 110% of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) monthly guarantee). Simultaneously, the PBGC conditionally approved the Fund’s request to partition all of the guaranteed benefit liabilities of its terminated vested participants and 56% of its retirees, beneficiaries, and disabled participants to a separate plan paid for by the PBGC.

Participants now must vote on the benefit suspensions. Under MPRA, the proposed benefit reductions and partition become effective unless a majority of all participants and beneficiaries eligible to vote cast negative ballots. If the participants approve the suspensions and the Treasury Department issues its final authorization, the suspensions and partition will be effective on September 1, 2017.

The only other multiemployer pension plan to receive the Treasury Department’s approval on an MPRA application was the Iron Workers Local 17 Pension Plan on December 16, 2016 (with the final authorization to suspend issued on January 27, 2017).

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About this Author


John F. Ring is a partner in Morgan Lewis's Labor and Employment Practice. He is also the office practice group leader for the Labor and Employment Practice and the hiring partner for the Washington, D.C. office. Mr. Ring's practice focuses on advising clients in connection with strategic business planning with a particular emphasis on the negotiation and administration of labor contracts, multiemployer benefit funds, and corporate restructurings. He represents management interests in collective bargaining, employee benefits, litigation, counseling, and litigation...

Thomas Wotring, Morgan Lewis Law Firm, Labor and Employment Litigation Attorney
Special Counsel

Thomas K. Wotring’s primary area of expertise is advising and representing multiemployer pension and health benefit plans and their Boards of Trustees in all areas of plan administration, including fiduciary compliance, benefit disputes, and withdrawal liability litigation. His experience includes investigations and federal claim controversies before a variety of government agencies including the US Department of Labor (DOL), the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, and the US Department of Justice.

David P. Ofenloch, Labor and Employment Attorney, Morgan Lewis Law Firm

David P. Ofenloch is an associate in the Morgan Lewis’s Labor and Employment Practice. Mr. Ofenloch’s practice focuses on advising clients, including multiemployer benefit funds, Boards of Trustees, plan sponsors, and employers, in connection with a wide range of employee benefit matters. He has experience advising clients regarding ERISA, the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980, the Internal Revenue Code, the Pension Protection Act of 2006, HIPAA, COBRA, and the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Ofenloch earned his J.D. New York Law School...