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Independent Fiduciary Services Inc. has rejected United Air Lines Inc.’s bid to cut pension payments by issuing a demand of its own: Pay up. The IFS, which was appointed to represent nearly 95,000 United workers, has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago to recognize what could add up to $1 billion in pension and retirement claims. According to a motion filed Tuesday, IFS wants the struggling airline to pay at least $260 million and as much as $994 million. “Based on its investigation, IFS has determined that United has not only failed to pay mandatory contributions required by the Internal Revenue Code which came due post-petition, but also those contributions directly attributable to the post-petition service of its employees,” the motion said. The IFS argues that unpaid plan contributions, which add up to $260 million post-petition, should be treated the same as “any government license, fee or tax” and given “administrative priority,” or priority over most creditor claims. The ceiling of $994 million represents the minimum required payments the airline owes on its plans for 2003 and 2004, IFS said. United stopped making pension payments in June and in November, the airline said it was eliminating four of its pension plans. This sparked fears that other bankrupt airlines would follow suit and try to dump their plans to eliminate their pension liabilities. United’s parent, UAL Corp., said it would fight the IFS’ motion, claiming that Chapter 11 doesn’t require a company to keep making pension payments. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Dec. 17 in the Chicago court. United filed for bankruptcy on Dec. 9, 2002. Copyright �2004 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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