United, We Fall?

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photoUnited Airlines has announced that it will not make $568 million in pension contributions this year. United's machinists union sued the company on Monday to force it to resume pension payments.

The world's second-largest airline has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since December 2002. Some analysts say the carrier might try to offload its pension obligations to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which oversees and insures corporate pension accounts.

If United bails out, what about other companies that find themselves in the red? Should the federal government bail out companies that can't deliver on their pension promises? Can the federal government afford to do so?

Click one of the "Listen" links to hear about the future of pensions in America.


Shawn Tully, senior writer covering airline industry for Fortune magazine

Teresa Ghilarducci, professor of economics and director of the Higgens Labor Research Lab at The University of Notre Dame

Richard Brownlee, professor and pension expert at The Darden School of Business Administration at The University of Virginia.

This program aired on August 5, 2004.


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