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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 5, 2008 at 5:08 PM

Washington Mutual pensions

Give everyone a parachute

The assumptions made in your editorial that the federally-regulated pension plans of Washington Mutual are somehow safe and sound is far from accurate [“Respect WaMu workers,” editorial, Oct. 1].

While the pension plan is insured through the PBGC [Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.], there is a limit on the maximum insured benefit amount. That limit will cause many recipients to lose pension benefits that they have earned over decades of service to WaMu, while the executives all safely parachute out with millions.

The statement that the 401(k) plan accounts are “owned” by the participants (employees) is not entirely correct. They hold a beneficial interest, not a legal title. The assets are held in a trust and the participants (employees) have individual account balances. The 401(k) plan has no federal insurance and the loss on investments in WaMu stock owned by employees is total.

I think this is worth making clear so that readers are not under the misimpression that the average WaMu employee’s retirement savings have not been significantly effected.

The executives, of course, are laughing their way out of the bank.

— Jeffrey Newman, Seattle

Robbed and cheated

I was a Washington Mutual employee and participated in the deferred-compensation plan. This plan was not just about deferring my bonus. I also put a part of my salary toward the plan in anticipation of my retirement.

I was not an executive at WaMu, but a salesperson who worked on 100 percent commission. This was pay that I opted to save for my retirement.

It is not right that WaMu employees are not being fully compensated by JPMorganChase.

I feel robbed and cheated.

— John Hopkins, Boston, Mass.

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