UPS: Pilots must agree to more cost savings

Shipping giant UPS is again telling its pilots they need to agree to more cost savings or the company will have to furlough at least 300 of them.

UPS gave the same ultimatum to its roughly 2,800 pilots last year, but said it would delay furloughs for at least 10 months after pilots agreed to more than two-thirds of the cost cuts the company wanted.

The two sides previously identified savings totaling roughly $90 million over three years, through pilots taking short- and long-term leaves of absence, military leaves, job sharing, reduction in flight pay guarantees, early retirement and other measures. UPS wanted $131 million in cost savings over three years.

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The earlier promise not to furlough pilots ends April 1. UPS said Monday the first group of pilots will be furloughed in May if another cost-cutting deal isn’t reached. [Read the full article]

Employees who took a hit on their savings last year might finally be in for some welcome news: Companies are stepping up efforts to help them save more for retirement.

Of companies that suspended or reduced 401(k) match programs, 80% planned to restore them this year, according to a survey conducted by Hewitt Associates, a global human resources consulting firm.

Workers were dealt a double-blow during the recession, as historic stock market declines decimated retirement portfolios while companies slashed 401(k) matches to reduce costs.

“We viewed [the 401(k) suspensions] as a temporary measure needed to provide cash flow to companies,” said Alison Borland, retirement strategy leader for Hewitt’s outsourcing business, who expected only 50% of companies to restore the match in 2010. “We are relieved that this is reversing this quickly.”

The survey also found that employers are losing confidence in their employees’ ability to save for retirement. [Read the full article]

Legislation requiring public workers to assume a portion of their health benefits costs and providing relief to the beleaguered state pension system has been introduced.

The package of bills introduced Monday follows vows by new Democratic leaders in the state Senate to revisit pension reform recommendations made four years ago but mostly ignored.

“Unless we take action now, New Jersey’s pension system will implode, leaving thousands of rank and file workers penniless in retirement,” Senate President Steve Sweeney said during a news conference on pension reforms two weeks ago.

One bill requires state, local and school district workers to contribute at least 1.5 percent of their salary toward their health care costs. Another caps at $15,000 the amount of unused sick time that can be cashed in at retirement.

A third bill repeals the 9 percent pension benefit increase put in place in 2001 by changing the way pensions are calculated. [Read the full article]

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GM’s Opel unit asked European governments for billions of euros (dollars) in aid on Tuesday even as it formally presented a restructuring plan that will result in some 8,300 job cuts in Europe.

Opel, owned by General Motors Co., is seeking loans and loan guarantees to the tune of euro2.7 billion ($3.7 billion) as it invests euro11 billion in Opel through 2014 and have the company break even by 2011.

“We don’t anticipate we will be turned down,” he said. “Our estimate is the overall process will take several weeks until it is completed, but we expect to have sufficient liquidity during this period.”

German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle said GM is seeking loan guarantees covering euro1.5 billion from the German federal and state governments, and he was noncommittal about the answer. [Read the full article]

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