Congress passed ERISA in 1974 to protect employees with respect to their pension, retirement, and other benefit plans offered by their employers. Prior to ERISA's enactment, it often became very difficult for employees to receive the benefits they were entitled to as a result of mismanagement of funds, bankruptcies, and closures. A classic example is the Studebaker plant closing in 1963. After this automaker closed its assembly plant, investigations revealed that its pension plan was so poorly funded that Studebaker could not pay benefits to all of its employees. Majority of its workforce received little to none of their vested pension benefits after reaching the retirement age of 60.
While ERISA was designed with the built-in employee protections, the statute does not prevent companies from experiencing financial hardship and market down turns. In other words, a market down-swing may bolster the need for ERISA's protection. Describe other significant events that have occurred in U.S. history that have bolstered a heightened need for ERISA protections.