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The 2015 Pension 40: Kenneth Feinberg

No. 26 Kenneth Feinberg, Managing Partner / The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Feinberg

Kenneth Feinberg
Managing Partner / The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Feinberg
Last year’s rank: Not ranked

Kenneth Feinberg has tackled some tough challenges. A Washington-based attorney and onetime chief of staff for former senator Ted Kennedy, Feinberg specializes in mediation and dispute resolution. He famously oversaw the compensation fund for victims of the 9/11 attacks, working pro bono for 33 months. In 2010 the U.S. Treasury Department appointed him to oversee the compensation plans of financial firms that had received federal bailout money. In June, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asked Feinberg to oversee the pension-restructuring program for troubled Taft-Hartley union pension plans that came out of the Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (see Randy DeFrehn, No. 23). Qualified funds that are dangerously underfunded submit a restructuring proposal to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., to be reviewed by Treasury, the PBGC and the Department of Labor. Feinberg weighs in on those proposals; if he finds them unacceptable, they may be sent back to the union. If changes are approved but rejected by union members, Feinberg can override that vote for funds that are “systemically important” — meaning that a takeover would cost the PBGC $1 billion or more. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund became the first plan to file under the new law when it submitted its restructuring proposal in September. “We have 225 days by statute to conduct a comprehensive review of the proposed plan and the retirement benefit cuts,” says Feinberg, 70. “Then I’ll either approve the plan or reject it.” He recognizes the effect pension cuts may have on beneficiaries. “They bargained for this; they expect it,” he says of promised pension benefits. “This [Central States] plan, which calls for average cuts of 50 percent on retirement benefits, could have a huge impact.” This puts Feinberg in a unique position: In a few years he has gone from annoying the U.S.’s biggest bankers to potentially stirring the wrath of union leaders like Teamsters general president James Hoffa.

The 2015 Pension 40

1. Bruce Rauner
2. John & Laura Arnold
Laura and John Arnold Foundation
3. Chris Christie
New Jersey
4. Randi Weingarten
AmericanFederation of Teachers
5. Phyllis Borzi
U.S. Department of Labor
6. Kevin de León
7. Alejandro García Padilla
Commonwealth ofPuerto Rico
8. Laurence Fink
9. Rahm Emanuel
10. Sean McGarvey
North AmericanBuilding Trades Unions
11. John Kline
12. J. Mark Iwry
U.S. TreasuryDepartment
13. Damon Silvers
14. Jeffrey Immelt
General Electric Co.
15. Joshua Gotbaum
Brookings Institution
16. Robin Diamonte
United Technologies Corp.
17. Mark Mullet
18. Terry O'Sullivan
Laborers' International Union of North America
19. Raymond Dalio
Bridgewater Associates
20. Ted Wheeler
21. Thomas Nyhan
Central States Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund
22. Karen Ferguson & Karen Friedman
Pensions Rights Center
23. Randy DeFrehn
National Coordinating Committee forMultiemployer Plans
24. Robert O'Keef
Motorola Solutions
25. Caitlin Long
Morgan Stanley
26. Kenneth Feinberg
The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Feinberg
27. Orrin Hatch
28. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Center for Retirement Initiatives, Georgetown University
29. Ian Lanoff
Groom Law Group
30. Joshua Rauh
Stanford Graduate School of Business
31. Ted Eliopoulos
California Public Employees' Retirement System
32. Edward (Ted) Siedle
Benchmark Financial Services
33. Teresa Ghilarducci
New School for Social Research
34. Denise Nappier
35. W. Thomas Reeder Jr.
Pension BenefitGuaranty Corp.
36. Hank Kim
National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems
37. Paul Singer
Elliott Management Corp.
38. Bailey Childers
National PublicPension Coalition
39. Amy Kessler
Prudential Financial
40. Judy Mares
U.S. Labor Department

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