The Senate and House cleared a pension bill that offers temporary help for single-employer and multi-employer funds and individual retirees hurt by the financial markets’ downturn. Final action came with Senate passage on Dec.11.

Multi-employer plans are important in unionized construction. The bill gives underfunded multi-employer plans 13 years, up from 10 now, to implement improvement plans. It also lets multi-employer plans elect to freeze their category—healthy, endangered or seriously endangered—for one year, which would help plans that were healthy until the markets’ plunge. “It’s a great temporary fix and ...was very much needed,” says Dana Thompson, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association assistant director for legislative affairs.