Steelerfan Posted June 5, 2008 Author Report Share Posted June 5, 2008 this blurb from bna is helpful. It 's in the context of mergers, etc., but is generally applicable. I could be mistaken (its been a long time since i read it), but I though some cases declared that although erisa doesn't require welfare benefits to be vested that if a plan provided for vesting, then benefits were vested for purposes of erisa. "The buyer may be limited to the extent to which retiree healthcare benefits may be curtailed or eliminated in the future. Although employer promises to pay retiree health costs are not subject to statutory "vesting" provisions, 386 such benefits may be vested as a matter of contract law. 387 In addition, even if such benefits are not vested, the modification or elimination of such benefits may be difficult as a practical matter given the adverse publicity and impact on employee relations frequently associated with any such action. If the workforce is unionized, the buyer's ability to eliminate or curtail retiree health benefits also may be limited, due to a collective bargaining agreement, 388 or the union's refusal to negotiate reduced benefits for future retirees and the inability of the union to negotiate on behalf of former employees. Also of note is the Retiree Benefits Bankruptcy Protection Act 389 which generally precludes an employer which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy from unilaterally eliminating retiree medical coverage during the pendency of the bankruptcy proceeding." See, e.g., Curtiss-Wright v. Schoonejongen, 514 U.S. 73, 18 EBC 2841 ( 1995). 387 See, e.g., In re White Farm Equipment Company v. White Motor Corp., 788 F.2d 1186, 7 EBC 1411 ( 6th Cir 1986), In re Unisys Corp. Retiree Medical Benefit ERISA Litigation, 58 F.3d 896, 25 EBC 2105 ( 3d Cir. 1995). 388 See, e.g., UAW v. Yard-Man Inc., 716 F.2d 1476, 4 EBC 2108 ( 6th Cir. 1983). Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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