Leonard Carder has over five decades of experience in representing Taft-Hartley trust funds associated with a wide variety of international and local unions. We are counsel to approximately twenty-five Taft-Hartley pension and welfare benefit plans covering members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), UNITE HERE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees/Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC), Marine Firemen Oilers & Wipers (MFOW), Masters, Mates & Pilots (MMP), the Seafarers International Union-Pacific District (SIU-PD), and others. We are also counsel to several single-employer employee benefit plans, and advise our public sector clients with respect to benefit coverage under Cal PERS and other state and local public employee benefit plans.
Our firm routinely handles the full panoply of compliance and transactional matters which face defined benefit and defined contribution pension fund trustees. These matters include attendance at all regular or special call trust fund meetings, plan drafting and qualification, preparation of summary plan descriptions, review and drafting of service provider contracts, fiduciary liability policies and investment policy guidelines, review of benefit claims and appeals, review of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders and Qualified Medical Child Support Orders, assistance with plan audits and annual tax filings, withdrawal liability matters, plan mergers and terminations, and trust fund arbitration and litigation.
Our trust fund litigation is extensive: in addition to a full caseload of collection and lien & subrogation matters, we have handled numerous cases in federal district and appellate courts involving novel issues under ERISA, including Manufacturers Life Insurance Company v. East Bay Restaurant and Tavern Retirement Plan, 57 F. Supp.2d 921 (N.D. Cal. 1999), a case of first impression holding that state escheat laws applied to pension plans are preempted by ERISA, and Barncord v. San Francisco Culinary, Bartenders and Service Employees Pension Fund, upholding an amendment to a pension plan’s disability retirement provisions against a challenge brought by a plan participant. We have also participated as co-counsel in securities fraud actions brought by pension trust funds, and in class actions against the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries brought by health & welfare trust funds.
We have assisted in the design and negotiation of several innovative Taft-Hartley benefit plans, including multiemployer profit sharing/401(k) savings plans, “supplemental welfare” plans (to fund cost of living increases for pensioners), child/elder care plans, education and training plans, legal services plans, and retiree health plans. In 2001, we wrote a ballot initiative amending the San Francisco City and County Employees’ Retirement Plan that was passed by the City’s voters in November of that year. During the 2002 negotiations between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), we met with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to obtain approval for novel changes in the benefit structure and funding of the ILWU-PMA Pension Plan. In 2005, we worked closely with the BART unions and management in the design and drafting of a public sector retiree health benefits plan that is the first of its kind in California. Through our representation of IBEW Local 1245, we have participated in proceedings before the Public Utilities Commission to amend the funding provisions of the PG&E Pension Plan.
We have also been heavily involved on behalf of several of our clients in proposed legislation to amend ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. For example, working with the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP), we drafted amendments to the “Pension Security and Transparency Act of 2005" that were incorporated into the version of that bill currently under review by the Senate. Leonard Carder Partner Peter Saltzman has been an invited speaker on ERISA legislation and other issues at annual meetings of several organizations, including the National Employment Lawyers Association and the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans.