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The 2015 Pension 40: Thomas Nyhan

No. 21 Thomas Nyhan, Executive Director / Central States Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund

Thomas Nyhan
Executive Director / Central States Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund
Last year’s rank: Not ranked

As executive director of the Central States Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund, Thomas Nyhan, 63, is in the unenviable position of overseeing benefit cuts to more than 400,000 International Brotherhood of Teamsters beneficiaries, raising the wrath of the union’s president, James Hoffa, and his 1.26 million members. On September 25 the $17.8 billion fund became the first to submit a pension rescue plan to the Treasury Department under the Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014. Under terms of the legislation, pension trustees must propose benefit changes; Nyhan and his trustees offered cuts of as much as 50 percent for some retirees. (Reductions hinge on age and status, with some beneficiaries expected to receive full benefits.) Treasury, working with the Department of Labor and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC), has 225 days to approve the plan or send it back for review. Not surprisingly, the plan spurred protests. In a letter to Nyhan, Hoffa, who initially supported Kline-Miller before turning against it, urged Central States not to file. Nyhan, however, who has overseen the fund for 13 years, insists that drastic measures are the only way to save what remains of a fund that is taking in $1 for every $3.46 it pays out. “This is our only option,” he says, “particularly if you look at the funding status of the PBGC,” which lacks capital to bail out the multiemployer system. In a reply to Hoffa, he wrote, “Without a rescue plan the pension fund will run out of money over the next ten years and our retirees will face the prospect of having their pension benefits reduced to essentially zero.” Nyhan, an attorney, served as Central States’ general counsel for more than 25 years. Since taking the executive director’s job, he says, “I’ve been trying to find a way to stabilize the fund in some way.” As difficult as it is, this plan to reduce benefits may be his best shot.

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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