WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today released the following statement after Senate Republicans released a pensions proposal. The multiemployer 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.
Brown has long fought to protect the pensions of workers and retirees, and has urged Congressional action before it is too late. Just this week, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) released a report underscoring why it’s critical that Congress act immediately. According to the PBGC, the agency hit a record deficit of $65.2 billion, compared to $53.9 billion last year. This $11.3 billion loss shows that this crisis gets more difficult and expensive to solve the longer Congress waits.
“I’m glad to see Republicans in Congress have come forward with a pensions proposal of their own. Just this week, the PBGC made clear that the longer we wait to solve this crisis, the more expensive it gets. I have concerns with some of the provisions put forth by Republicans, but I look forward to working together with Chairman Grassley and Senator Portman to find a bipartisan solution,” said Brown.
Brown continued, “Wall Street destroyed our economy, and they got a bail out. These workers, retirees and small businesses did everything right. Congress has a responsibility to protect the pensions they worked hard for and earned. We need to act now, before it is too late. Failure is not an option for millions of Americans.”
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 did everything right and did not cause this crisis. Congress must not turn its back on them.