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The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974A Political History$
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James Wooten

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520242739

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520242739.001.0001

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“The Most Glorious Story of Failure in the Business”

“The Most Glorious Story of Failure in the Business”

The Studebaker-Packard Corporation and the Origins of ERISA

(p.51) 2 “The Most Glorious Story of Failure in the Business”
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974

James A. Wooten

University of California Press

This chapter elaborates how Studebaker Corporation came to play its role in the political history of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The Studebaker-Packard Corporation terminated a pension plan the United Auto Workers (UAW) had negotiated for employees of the Packard Motor Car Company. Studebaker became “the most glorious story of failure in the business.” The Studebaker Corporation and the Packard Motor Car Company created pension plans for their production employees during the Congress of Industrial Organization’s (CIO) “pension stampede.” The Kaiser and Hudson shutdowns led the UAW to push for vesting in its next round of collective bargaining. Studebaker-Packard had avoided bankruptcy in 1958 by restructuring its debt, a move that passed “real control” of the firm into “the hands of New York bankers.” The Studebaker shutdown and the report of the President’s Committee put pension risks on the congressional agenda and launched the campaign for pension reform.

Keywords:   Studebaker-Packard Corporation, Employee Retirement Income Security Act, political history, pension plan, Packard Motor Car Company, Studebaker Corporation, Studebaker shutdown, pension reform

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