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FOREWORD

Industrial pensions began in America more than 100 years ago and in the last 25 years, they have enjoyed enormous growth. Today, more than 30 million American workers are relying on private pension and welfare plans as a major source of economic security in old age. The assets of private pension arrangements increased from $2.4 billion in 1940 to more than $150 billion in 1975 making these funds one of the largest sources of private capital in the economy. These changes have radically altered the retirement security expectations of the American people.

But for the most part, this phenomenal growth was largely unregulated. While the absence of substantive requirements helped promote growth of the private system, the resulting plans set up difficult and sometimes insurmountable obstacles to plan participants.

Passage of this legislation is the end product of years of study and development by the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare. For their work in this effort, I wish to extend a special thanks to all of my colleagues on the Committee whose contributions and support made this landmark reform possible. A particular tribute must be reserved for the distinguished ranking minority member of the Committee (Mr. Javits) whose efforts dating back to 1967 awakened Congress to the need for comprehensive reform.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act responded to the recommendations of the Senate study and to the objectives of a broad consensus for comprehensive reform. The new rules reflect a careful balance of incentives and controls designed by Congress to improve the equitable character of private plans while encouraging their future growth and development.

Implementation of the ERISA standards will demand an effective administration with a unique understanding of the impact of its requirements. To aid those responsible for its administration, I have asked the committee staff to compile this legislative history with the assistance of the Department of Labor under whose direction the indexes were prepared.

HARRISON A. WILLIAMS, Jr.,

Chairman.

(III)

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