WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI) wrote to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urging the Speaker to include robust relief for multiemployer pension plans in any future stimulus package. The Senators asked that Speaker Pelosi include a proposal based on a policy framework that has bipartisan support and protects both plan solvency and benefits earned by retirees. 

“Pension income is deferred wages. Workers banded together to negotiate for these pensions and sacrificed dollars from each pay check over the course of their career in order to earn these benefits. Any proposed solution should not ask generations of Americans who have built their lives around the idea that if you work hard and play by the rules – you will have a shot at success and a secure retirement. The certainty that hard work will be rewarded empowers Americans to achieve economic security, provide for loved ones, and retire with dignity,” the Senators wrote.

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, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

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. The current economic downturn puts these plans at increased risk for failure. These retirees and workers who have done everything right did not cause this crisis, and Congress must not turn its back on them.

In their letter, Brown and Peters underscore the importance of a fix that doesn’t sacrifice the hard-earned benefits of retirees and workers.

A copy of the letter can be read HERE and below.

Dear Madam Speaker,

As you work to advance legislation combatting the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating economic impact, we urge you to include robust relief for multiemployer pension plans in the next earliest package. Specifically, we ask that you include a proposal based on a policy framework that has bipartisan support and protects both plan solvency and benefits earned by retirees.

Pension income is deferred wages. Workers banded together to negotiate for these pensions and sacrificed dollars from each pay check over the course of their career in order to earn these benefits. Any proposed solution should not ask generations of Americans who have built their lives around the idea that if you work hard and play by the rules – you will have a shot at success and a secure retirement. The certainty that hard work will be rewarded empowers Americans to achieve economic security, provide for loved ones, and retire with dignity.

Legislation to secure the pensions of millions of Americans who, through no fault of their own, are at risk of losing the benefits they earned, is long overdue. Addressing multiemployer pension insolvency is an integral part of remedying the economic impact of this epidemic and it must be done without sacrificing workers’ hard-earned benefits.

Thank you for your consideration of our views. Please do not hesitate to contact our offices if we can be of additional assistance.

Sincerely,

 

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