Mark Ugoretz, the first and only permanent head of the ERISA Industry Committee, will retire next month after nearly 29 years with the Washington-based employee benefits lobbying organization.
Before Ugoretz's joining in 1983, ERIC—the abbreviation commonly used to refer to the organization—the group had been represented by law firms.
The downside of not having a permanent full-time staff had become apparent a year earlier in 1982 when federal lawmakers, in a move that caught employers by surprise, passed legislation that made deep cuts in the maximum benefits that could be funded through pension plans.
A year later, Ugoretz, a lobbyist at the time for the Nonprescription Drug Manufacturers Association, as well as a former congressional staffer, was hired to become ERIC's executive director. He later was named president and CEO.
Ugoretz's early years with ERIC coincided with unprecedented congressional activity in the employee benefits arena. Between 1984 and 1987 alone, lawmakers passed a slew of bills that had a huge impact on employee benefit plans.
The measures included a bill that created COBRA health care continuation coverage and another that totally revamped 401(k) plan non-discrimination testing requirements and contribution rules.
Ugoretz and the staff he worked with often were in the thick of things trying to convince lawmakers to ease provisions that would be objectionable to employers.
"My career with ERIC, and its leadership, members, and staff as well as my colleagues in the benefits community, has been extraordinarily rewarding. The people with whom I have worked and represented have demonstrated a consistent commitment and dedication to employee benefits and economic security that has always made me proud to represent ERIC's members and to work with you," Ugoretz said in a statement released May 2.
Until a successor is named, Scott J. Macey, of counsel with the law firm Covington & Burling L.L.P. in Washington and a former ERIC chair, will direct ERIC.