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Notice

Pendency of Request for Approval of Special Withdrawal Liability Rules; Service Employees International Union Local 1 Pension Trust Fund

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AGENCY:

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

ACTION:

Notice of pendency of request.

SUMMARY:

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”) has received a request from the Service Employees International Union Local 1 Pension Trust Fund for approval of a plan amendment providing for special withdrawal liability rules. Under section 4203(f) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and the PBGC's regulation on Extension of Special Withdrawal Liability Rules, a multiemployer pension plan may, with PBGC approval, be amended to provide for special withdrawal liability rules similar to those that apply to the construction and entertainment industries. Such approval is granted only if the PBGC determines that the plan amendment will be used in an industry with characteristics that would make use of the special rules appropriate and that the plan amendment would not pose a significant risk to the PBGC. This notice advises interested persons of the pendency of this request and invites public comment.

DATES:

Comments must be submitted by April 16, 2009.

ADDRESSES:

Comments may be mailed to the Office of the Chief Counsel, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street, NW., Washington, DC 20005-4026, or delivered to Suite 340 at the above address. Comments also may be submitted electronically through the PBGC's Web site at http://reg.comments@pbgc.gov or by fax to 202-326-4112. Copies of the request for approval and any comments may be obtained by writing to the PBGC's Communications and Public Affairs Department at Suite 1200 at the above address or by visiting that office or calling 202-326-4040 during normal business hours. (TTY and TDD users may call the Federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 202-326-4040.) Copies of the PBGC's regulation on Extension of Special Withdrawal Liability Rules (29 CFR part 4203) and of the originating request for approval may be accessed through the PBGC's Web site (http://www.pbgc.gov).

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Eric Field, Attorney, Office of the Chief Counsel, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street, NW., Washington, DC 20005-4026; telephone 202-326-4020. (TTY and TDD users may call the Federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 202-326-4020).

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

Under section 4203(a) of ERISA, a complete withdrawal from a multiemployer plan generally occurs when an employer permanently ceases to have an obligation to contribute under the plan or permanently ceases all covered operations under the plan. Under section 4205 of ERISA, a partial withdrawal generally occurs when an employer (1) Reduces its contribution base units by seventy percent in each of three consecutive years, or (2) permanently ceases to have an obligation to contribute under one or more but fewer than all collective bargaining agreements under which the employer has been obligated to contribute under the plan, while either continuing to perform work in the jurisdiction of the collective bargaining agreement of the type for which contributions were previously required or transferring such work to another location or to an entity or entities owned or controlled by the employer, or (3) permanently ceases to have an obligation to contribute under the plan for work performed at one or more but fewer than all of its facilities, while continuing to perform work at the facility of the type for which the obligation to contribute ceased.

Although the general rules on complete and partial withdrawal are based on events that normally result in a diminution of the plan's contribution base, Congress recognized that, in certain industries and under certain circumstances, a complete or partial cessation of the obligation to contribute Start Printed Page 9115does not normally weaken the plan's contribution base. For that reason, Congress established special withdrawal rules for the construction and entertainment industries.

For construction industry plans and employers, section 4203(b)(2) of ERISA provides that a complete withdrawal occurs only if an employer ceases to have an obligation to contribute under a plan, and the employer either continues to perform previously covered work in the jurisdiction of the collective bargaining agreement or resumes such work within five years without renewing the obligation to contribute at the time of resumption. Section 4203(c)(1) of ERISA applies the same special definition of complete withdrawal to the entertainment industry, except that the pertinent jurisdiction is the jurisdiction of the plan rather than the jurisdiction of the collective bargaining agreement. In contrast, the general definition of complete withdrawal in section 4203(a) of ERISA defines a withdrawal to include permanent cessation of the obligation to contribute regardless of the continued activities of the withdrawn employer.

Congress also established special partial withdrawal liability rules for the construction and entertainment industries. Under section 4208(d)(1) of ERISA, “[a]n employer to whom section 4203(b) (relating to the building and construction industry) applies is liable for a partial withdrawal only if the employer's obligation to contribute under the plan is continued for no more than an insubstantial portion of its work in the craft and area jurisdiction of the collective bargaining agreement of the type for which contributions are required.” Under section 4208(d)(2) of ERISA, “[a]n employer to whom section 4203(c) (relating to the entertainment industry) applies shall have no liability for a partial withdrawal except under the conditions and to the extent prescribed by the [PBGC] by regulation.”

Section 4203(f) of ERISA provides that the PBGC may prescribe regulations under which plans in other industries may be amended to provide for special withdrawal liability rules similar to the rules prescribed in section 4203(b) and (c) of ERISA. Section 4203(f)(2) of ERISA provides that such regulations shall permit the use of special withdrawal liability rules only in industries (or portions thereof) in which the PBGC determines that the characteristics that would make use of such rules appropriate are clearly shown, and that the use of such rules would not pose a significant risk to the insurance system under Title IV of ERISA. Section 4208(e)(3) of ERISA provides that the PBGC shall prescribe by regulation a procedure by which plans may be amended to adopt special partial withdrawal liability rules upon a finding by the PBGC that the adoption of such rules is consistent with the purposes of Title IV of ERISA.

The PBGC's regulation, Extension of Special Withdrawal Liability Rules (29 CFR part 4203), prescribes procedures whereby a multiemployer plan may ask PBGC to approve a plan amendment that establishes special complete or partial withdrawal liability rules. The regulation may be accessed on the PBGC's Web site (http://www.pbgc.gov).

Request

The PBGC has received a request from the Service Employees International Union Local 1 Pension Trust Fund (“Local 1 Plan”) for approval of a plan amendment providing for special withdrawal liability rules. A copy of the originating request, and PBGC's summary of the actuarial reports that the plan provided, may be accessed on the PBGC's Web site (http://www.pbgc.gov). A copy of the complete filing may be requested from the PBGC Disclosure Officer. The fax number is 202-326-4042. It may also be obtained by writing the Communications and Public Affairs Department, PBGC, 1200 K Street, NW., Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20005.

In brief, the Local 1 Plan, a multiemployer plan covering the residential building cleaning industry in Chicago, represents that the industry has characteristics similar to those of the construction industry. The plan has adopted an amendment prescribing special withdrawal liability rules, which, if approved by the PBGC, would be effective as of July 1, 2005. Under the proposed amendment, complete withdrawal of an employer would occur only under conditions similar to those described in ERISA section 4203(b)(2), or certain other conditions including a mass withdrawal. Partial withdrawal of an employer would occur only under conditions similar to those described in ERISA section 4208(d)(1). The request includes actuarial data to support the plan's contention that the amendment will not pose a significant risk to the insurance system under Title IV of ERISA.

Comments

All interested persons are invited to submit written comments concerning the pending request to the PBGC at the above address by April 16, 2009. All comments will be made a part of the record. Comments received will be available for public inspection at the address set forth above.

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Issued in Washington, DC, on this 17th day of February, 2009.

Vincent K. Snowbarger,

Acting Director, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

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[FR Doc. E9-4312 Filed 2-27-09; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 7708-01-P