UPS Braces For $3.8 Billion Charge As Treasury's Pension Benefit Decision Looms

As we covered previously, in an effort to remain solvent the Central States Pension Fund has submitted an application to the Treasury for approval to cut member benefits.  While some plan participants could see pension incomes cut in half, the fund projects that it will become insolvent by 2025 if nothing is done.

Treasury is set to decide on the matter by May 7th, and as it turns out, the decision impacts more than just current plan participants...

During its Q1 earnings call, UPS told investors that if Treasury approves the CSPF plan to cut benefits, the company would have to take a charge of approximately $3.2 to $3.8 billion.

 

As part of a collective bargaining agreement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters when UPS withdrew from the fund in 2007,  the company agreed to provide supplemental benefits to any remaining members in the event that certain benefits were lawfully reduced.

While any income statement impact will be adjusted out by analysts, it will be a significant drain on UPS' cash flow (UPS generated $5 billion in free cash flow in fiscal 2015) as it funds the benefit gap over time.

UPS is just the latest example of what lies ahead and forces the government's hand to provide yet another bailout (and encourage yet more moral hazard over-promising).

As we concluded previously, "This is going to be a national crisis for hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions, of retirees and their families. It's going to open the floodgates for other cuts." said Karen Friedman, executive president of the Pension Rights Center.

 

We can't help but wonder that as more pension funds become insolvent, and more and more participants are forced to take reductions in benefits, whether helicopter money won't soon become a reality for the United States, even before it becomes one in Japan. Especially if it is spun by some opportunistic politicans as the "only hope" for America's workers to preserve some of their retirement savings.

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