The attorneys in the Willig, Williams & Davidson Employee Benefits Group understand that quality health care and a secure retirement are the most important things that labor unions offer to America's working families. We therefore have committed ourselves to providing the highest level of representation to Taft-Hartley pension and welfare trust funds, and to unions that negotiate for their members' benefits.
Our Benefits Group provides legal services in connection with the establishment and maintenance of a wide variety of pension, profit sharing, health and welfare, severance, training and education plans, for public and private, single and multi-employer funds. This includes counseling and advice relating to the applicable requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Internal Revenue Code and the Taft-Hartley Act, The Pension Protection Act, guidance in plan formation and design, and advice in problems of fund administration, including eligibility, coverage, and investment issues. We also offer advice on employee benefit issues arising in corporate restructuring, including divestitures, mergers, plan shutdowns, spinoffs, bankruptcy reorganizations, and plan terminations.
We negotiate contracts with service providers, including investments in private equity, hedge funds, real estate and openly-traded securities. We advise funds under audit by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). We counsel funds on all issues of day-to-day operations, including participant communications, claims adjudication, COBRA, HIPAA, and cafeteria plan administration.
We work closely with our clients' professional advisors, accountants and actuaries to design employee benefit plans and to secure favorable tax treatment with respect to the formation and subsequent proper operation of these employee benefit plans. We are not content just to copy IRS model language into our plan documents. All of our clients require plan documents that comply with the law. But we believe they also deserve plan documents that clearly reflect the terms of their bargain and that provide a workable blueprint for plan administration.
We also represent our union and trust fund clients by: (1) developing innovative benefit proposals to resolve bargaining impasses successfully; (2) representing them in all forms of benefits litigation -- including trustee-deadlock arbitrations, lawsuits against former plan providers, and contribution delinquency actions against employers; (3) handling benefit related grievance arbitrations and unfair labor practice proceedings; and (4) preparing and presenting benefit issues before interest arbitration panels.
Our lawyers regularly serve as lecturers at employee benefit law institutes and seminars and prepare educational training for clients in the employee benefits area. Our Group Chair, Deborah Lerner, was recently honored by being selected to the American College of Employee Benefits Lawyers.
Employee Benefits: Resources
Cadillac Tax Delayed: What It Means for Unions January 21, 2016 In response to growing concerns raised by both labor and management groups, Congress passed a law in December 2015 that delayed the start of the Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac Tax” for two years, until Jan.1, 2020.
IRS Extends Deadlines for ACA Reporting January 20, 2016 The IRS recently extended two Affordable Care Act (ACA) deadlines for employers and other providers of health coverage to report minimum essential coverage and for employers to report offers of health coverage to full-time employees.
SCOTUS Upholds Healthcare Subsidies for Millions of Americans July 2, 2015 On June 24, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in King v. Burwell, in which it considered whether a small ambiguity in the language of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) meant that only citizens in states that had established their own healthcare Marketplaces or Exchanges were eligible for financial assistance in purchasing insurance coverage.
Employers and Unions Must Prepare for 'Cadillac Tax' October 1, 2014 Stemming from the Affordable Care Act and implementing in 2018, unions will need to negotiate now for the Cadillac Tax which is an excise tax on the excess of the cost of an employer-sponsored health plan.
Health Coverage through the Marketplace? To Buy (Participate) or Not? July 10, 2013 One of the major components of the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) is the upcoming introduction of “Marketplaces” or “Exchanges,” through which individuals can purchase health insurance directly. The Obamacare marketplaces are set to open in 2014, and can accept applications as early as this October.
Important Ruling By U.S. Supreme Court: ERISA Plan Terms Govern In Reimbursement Case April 24, 2013 The U.S. Supreme Court recently held that a fund could enforce a reimbursement provision, even where it seemed very unfair. In this case, a man was injured in a car accident and his fund paid his medical benefits. The man brought suit and recovered some monies from the other driver’s policy and some from his own insurance policy. The fund asked for repayment for the benefits it had paid – but that would leave the man with none of the monies he recovered.
Eight and Eighty Work Week Signed Into Law September 13, 2012 On July 5, 2012, Governor Corbett signed into law Act 109, which amends provisions of the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act. One amendment permits employers to calculate overtime using a 14 day, 80 hour work week, instead of using a 40 hour work week. Another amendment in Act 109 provides an overtime exemption for air carrier employees who work more than 40 hours in a work week when trading scheduled work hours with another employee.
Affordable Care Act - What the Supreme Court Decision Means to You July 3, 2012 On June 28, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court released its long anticipated and much discussed decision to the challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also referred to as the “Affordable Care Act”). The opinion reflects the many divisions within the Supreme Court, but ultimately resulted in the Affordable Care Act being upheld by the Court.
U.S. Supreme Court to Consider Validity of National Health Care Reform March 26, 2012 During the week of Mar. 26, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court heard several hours of oral argument on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010, commonly called National Health Care Reform (or derisively referred to as “Obamacare”).
Pennsylvania Courts Continue to Protect Post-Retirement Employee Benefits March 12, 2012 In recent years, employers have become increasingly aggressive in their attempts to reduce or eliminate post-retirement benefits earned by union workers. This focus on reducing so-called “legacy costs,” in relation to pension and retiree medical benefits, reflects demographic and accounting rule changes that have caused those benefits to make up a greater share of workforce costs than in years past (although not nearly as large as some employers would suggest).
2012 Will Be a Big Year for Health Care Reform January 20, 2012 On Mar. 27, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear several hours of oral argument on whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, commonly called Health Care Reform, is constitutional. The primary challenge arises from the Act’s “individual mandate,” a provision effective in 2014 which requires individuals to buy health insurance or pay certain penalties.
Willig, Williams & Davidson Gets Injunction to Stop Pension Changes January 10, 2012 On Dec. 29, 2011, Alaine S. Williams of Willig, Williams & Davidson obtained a preliminary injunction on behalf of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 85 to stop planned pension changes by Erie County, Pa.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Bolsters Public Workers' Pension Rights November 29, 2011 On November 25, 2011, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued a unanimous decision protecting the pension rights of public employees in a case litigated by Willig, Williams & Davidson and the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board on behalf of firefighters in the City of Erie.
Highlights on Health Care Reform Legislation May 20, 2010 In March, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (and an accompanying reconciliation bill) into law. This new law will make dramatic changes to this country’s health care system. Here is what you need to know...
What Is the Family and Medical Leave Act? Part II By Alidz Oshagan The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) is a federal law that requires certain employers to provide qualifying employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. This blog post is Part II of a series providing an overview of the FMLA. Part I discussed the basics of the law, and this...
6 FAQs About Health Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSA) By Lauren Frankel As the end of the year comes to a close, you may need to make certain decisions relating to your employer-provided health care benefits. If your employer offers a Health Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA), you might have questions about how an FSA works and whether it makes sense for you to participate....
What Is the Family and Medical Leave Act? Part I By Alidz Oshagan The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law that requires certain employers to provide qualifying employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. This blog post is Part I of a series of posts providing a basic overview of the FMLA. Part I provides an overview of: what employees/employers...
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