Citizens United To Reform Bankruptcy Laws Blog

Saturday, March 12, 2005

ROCKEFELLER VOWS TO CONTINUE FIGHT FOR WORKERS’ AND RETIREES’ RIGHTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After his amendment to protect the workers and retirees of bankrupt companies fell just short of passing the Senate, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) tonight pledged to continue fighting to make sure that these companies deliver on the promises they have made to their workers and retirees.
“People work their entire lives under the promise that they will receive a pension and health care from their companies,” said Rockefeller, Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Health Care. “Sadly we have seen some companies in the last few years use the bankruptcy courts to walk away from these promises.
“Our employees and retirees need better protections, and we will continue to fight to make sure that they receive these protections. Our workers and retirees should have the right to claim their fair share of the remaining assets of a company they helped build.”

“I am disappointed by tonight’s actions, but we have lost just this battle. We will win the war.”
Rockefeller’s amendment would have:

· Ensured Compensation for Retirees Who Lose Health Coverage. If an employer reduces retiree health care benefits as part of a bankruptcy plan, retirees and former workers would be entitled to cash compensation, in addition to the general unsecured claim they receive under current law. The compensation is designed to enable retirees and former workers to purchase comparable health insurance for another 18 months.

· Increased Workers’ Priority Claim Against Company Assets. The amendment would have allowed employees to recover more of the back-pay, vacation time, severance, or benefit payments that the company owes them at the time it declares bankruptcy. Current law grants an employee a priority claim of $4,925 against the company’s assets, but Rockefeller’s amendment would have increased the claim to $15,000.

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