“United Airlines has reached a settlement with the federal government,” reports Democracy Now!, “that will result in the airline saving $645 million in each of the next five years at the expense of taxpayers.”
“The government is allowing the airline to hand over four under-funded pension plans in what the Wall Street Journal is calling the largest corporate pension default in U.S. history.” More below:
As a result of the settlement, employees of United will receive smaller pensions that they were once promised. The Association of Flight Attendants described the settlement as QUOTE “morally criminal.” Several of United’s unions have threatened to strike if their pensions end.
The Center for American Progress [SEE NOTE BELOW] noted on Monday that the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation agreed to allow the airline to shed $10 billion in pension commitments just as President Bush signed legislations making it harder for citizens to declare bankruptcy. (DN!)
I just searched — and searched and searched — and it wasn’t the Center for American Progress. I scoured its site, my Monday newsletter, and my RSS feed. Nothing there. Then I discovered, through a Google search, that Goodman is quoting ThinkProgress.org. Even seasoned journalists like Amy Goodman make errors (!). There’s comfort in that. However, what she reports is accurate, and yet ONE MORE SIGN that the American people are getting the shaft.
More from ThinkProgress.org:
The point isn’t so much that United Airlines should or should not be able to declare bankruptcy and slough off promised benefits – maybe that really is what’s necessary for the company to become a “competitive enterprise for the long term.” The bankruptcy judge will decide.
The point is UAL is dumping $9.8 billion in retirement obligations on the federal government – in other words, on taxpayers – so it can get on stable financial footing. Besides hurting taxpayers, UAL’s failure to meet its commitements will adversely affect UAL workers. And last week, President Bush signed legislation that will make it more difficult for those same workers to file for bankruptcy and receive the same privilege as United Airlines – that is, of being able to start over when faced with an unforeseen financial crisis.
In General, the legislation will make it harder and more expensive for millions of average Americans to be forgiven trifling sums – most of which would barely make a mark on the $30 million per year credit card industry profits.
During the debate over the bill, Americans were repeatedly accused – despite directly contradictory evidence – of “abusing bankruptcy laws.” We’ll see who speaks up about UAL’s “abuse.”
Postscript: Why have I never been to ThinkProgress.org‘s site before? It’s terrific. And I signed up for their e-mail newsletter.