WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today said the newly released Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) annual report underscores why it’s critical that Congress act to solve the multiemployer pension crisis. According to the report, the Multiemployer Program remains severely underfunded with liabilities of more than $66 billion and only little more than $3 billion in assets. The PBGC is the arm of the federal government that insures pension plans, and the Multiemployer Program is highly likely to become insolvent by 2026 at the latest.

Yesterday, Brown called for a multiemployer pension fix during a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy. In August, Brown took to the Senate floor to call on his Senate colleagues to take swift action on behalf of more than a million American workers and retirees who are in danger of losing the pensions they’ve earned.

“Without action from Washington, workers and retirees around the country are going to spend another holiday season worried about whether they’ll receive the retirement and benefits they’ve earned over a lifetime of hard work,” said Brown. “The longer we wait, the more dire and expensive the situation becomes, and even more workers, retirees and small businesses are put at risk. Congress must act now to fix this crisis now, before it’s too late. Failure is not an option.” 

The pension crisis threatens the retirement of more than 1-1.5 million workers and retirees nationwide and could put small businesses across the country in jeopardy. These miners, truck drivers, carpenters, bakers and others worked hard all their lives and gave up raises at the bargaining table in order to put that money toward retirement for themselves and their families. Now that retirement is at risk.

Numerous pension plans, including the Central States Pension Plan, the United Mine Workers Pension Plan, the Bakers and Confectioners Pension Plan, and more are at risk of failure. Several other plans have already had to cut benefits. If nothing is done to help the plans, they will fail and retirees will face massive cuts to the benefits they earned over decades of work.

If the plans are allowed to fail, not only will they no longer be able to pay promised benefits, but taxpayers and small businesses would be at risk of having to pay billions because the PBGC would be on the hook for billions of dollars it cannot pay.

There are several causes for this crisis, including the fact that the economic collapse of 2008 devastated these plans and the people who depend on them. These retirees and workers who have done everything right did not cause this crisis, and Congress must not turn its back on them.