Bulletin 9

November 2001

TO: Participating Employers

FROM: Office of the Administrative Manager

RE: Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA)

This is the ninth in a series of Bulletins issued to assist Employers in their monthly Pension Reporting and in understanding the various aspects of Trust administration. Much of the information presented in this Bulletin was previously published in May 1995. However, in light of the tragedy which took place on September 11, 2001, in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, and the resultant call-up of national guard and reserve personnel the Trustees want to ensure employers are provided with the necessary information to accurately and timely report individuals called to serve their country in this time of crisis.

The Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) became law on December 12, 1994. Its purpose is to encourage non-career military service with a minimum of disruption of civilian careers. The new law clarifies the obligations of multi-employer pension trusts like the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust to provide pension coverage.

Under USERRA, as a contributing employer to the Western Conference Trust you have certain pension obligations regarding an employee who leaves covered employment to enter military service and thereafter returns to work for you while his USERRA reemployment rights are protected. If your employee is absent from covered employment because of military service and then returns to work for you while his USERRA reemployment rights are protected, you are obligated under USERRA to do two things:

  1. You must notify the Trust in writing within 30 days after your employee's return to work.
  2. You must pay retroactive pension contributions to the Trust on the employee's behalf for the period he or she was absent from covered employment just as if the employee's period of military service had been covered employment with your company.

Under USERRA, you are not obligated to pay interest on these retroactive pension contributions. However, if you fail to pay required USERRA pension contributions to the Trust on a timely basis, those contributions will be considered delinquent and processed under the Trust's regular delinquency procedures just like any other overdue pension contributions, thereby exposing you to liability for interest on those contributions from their due date, plus liquidated damages and attorneys' fees. Contributions are due within sixty (60) days after the employee returns to work. Employer compliance with USERRA's pension contribution obligations will also be monitored as part of the Trust's regular employer audit program.

The Trust is ready to work with you in resolving any questions that may arise about your pension obligations under USERRA for employees who are covered by the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Plan. When specific questions arise, please contact the Pension Accounting Supervisor at the Administrative Office of the Trust.

If you have questions about any other obligation you may have under USERRA to your employees or to other fringe benefit plans, we urge you to consult with your legal advisors or the administrators of those other plans. You can also secure information on USERRA at the following website: http://www.elaws.dol.gov/userra/wren/benefits/ben_pens.htm