The American Trucking Associations applauds the U.S. Senate's recent passage of a pension relief bill that will help ease the financial strain on American businesses due to the lagging economy and volatility in financial markets.

ATA strongly supports the measure, known as the Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008, which will alleviate the financial burden of corporations that have faced stricter pension funding requirements since passage of the Pension Protection Act of 2006. ATA applauds the House and Senate's quick action on this bipartisan legislative measure.

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 required companies that failed to meet targeted funding percentages in a particular year to contribute funds covering those missed target amounts. Typically, this shields employees from exposure to market volatility. However, in today's economic climate, employers are facing pension costs that are significantly higher than last year's. This comes at a time when the trucking industry is facing declining freight volumes, decreased revenues and a growing number of bankruptcies.

Provisions within the legislation include an optional one-year freeze on changes in a pension plan's zone status, and the addition of three years to the funding improvement and rehabilitation periods for pension plans in the yellow or red zone in 2008 and 2009.