Hello! I'm Phyllis C. Borzi, assistant secretary for the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor. Thanks for subscribing to my update for consumers and those interested in retirement issues.
This year, we celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). ERISA was signed into law by President Gerald Ford on Labor Day in 1974, establishing standards for private sector pension and health benefit plans and increasing protections for plan participants and their families.
Some of you will remember that a big impetus for passing ERISA was the closing of the Studebaker Corporation in December 1963 and the resulting loss of pension benefits by its workers. The misfortunes of Studebaker's employees drew national attention to the importance of pension reform. The danger was clear: Without protection for pensions, workers risked losing the retirement benefits they had earned through years of hard work. The solution was the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
The Department of Labor's web team created a terrific web page dedicated to the first 40 years of ERISA. Take a look at the timeline and the historical documents-including President Ford's schedule from September 2, 1974, along with a list of attendees at the signing! You may even want to share some of the neat infographics and visuals developed especially for this commemoration.
While the landscape of retirement, health, and other benefits has changed dramatically in the past 40 years, ERISA remains the cornerstone of employee benefits law. By any measure, ERISA has been an enormous success. While updates and reforms are needed, today the law protects about $7.5 trillion in assets for 141 million workers. That's a huge responsibility and I am proud to run the agency whose employees are dedicated to ensuring you get the benefits you have earned.
Last month, it was a particular treat for Secretary Perez and me to welcome back former leaders of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (formerly the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration) for a symposium in honor of the fortieth anniversary of ERISA. Current and former EBSA officials engaged in lively discussions, delivered sometimes provocative observations, and reflected on ERISA's past, present and future.
The archived webcast of the event is available via the links below.
Here's to 40 years of ERISA-and more to come!
• View the 40th Anniversary of ERISA symposium Part I
• View the 40th Anniversary of ERISA symposium Part II
• Learn more about ERISA