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Countdown to Cuts: Retirees Call on Policymakers to Stop the Clock on Cuts to Their Pensions

For Immediate ReleaseContact: Nancy Hwa, 202-296-3776
September 10, 2015www.pensionrights.org
Stop the Clock on Pension Cuts

WASHINGTON – Hundreds of retired truck drivers and their spouses came to Washington, D.C., today to tell policymakers how proposed cuts to their pensions  as authorized by the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA)  could devastate their retirement security. Retirees from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin came to testify at a Treasury hearing on regulations regarding the cuts, to lobby their Members of Congress, and to speak out at a "Stop the Clock on Pension Cuts" press conference on Capitol Hill.

At the press conference, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), and others spoke out against the planned cuts and called on Congress to pass the Keep Our Pension Promises Act of 2015 (KOPPA), which was introduced by Sanders and Kaptur in June. KOPPA would rollback MPRA’s pension-cut provisions, while providing funding for troubled multiemployer pension plans and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the agency that assists troubled pension plans.

The other speakers were James P. Hoffa, President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Jimmy Conigliaro, the General Vice President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; and Karen Friedman, Executive Vice President and Policy Director of the Pension Rights Center. 

“These cuts are a ticking time bomb  about to blow up the pensions of those folks who have worked so hard for decades to achieve a secure retirement,” said Friedman. “These retirees have worked hard all of their lives to achieve the American dream. Now they are faced with unprecedented and unfair cuts to the pensions that they have earned.”

The press event was timed to coincide with the Treasury Department’s public hearing on its proposed regulations on how these cuts are implemented. The vast majority of the people testifying at the hearing were retirees who would be harmed by cuts to their benefits. 

Pension Rights Center Director Karen Ferguson told Treasury, “MPRA is unprecedented, overturning 40 years of law by allowing trustees to reduce the benefits of retirees in ongoing plans. It has also established a dangerous precedent that could lay the foundation for cuts in earned pensions well beyond the multiemployer sphere.”

Last December, during the waning hours of the 113th Congress, MPRA was rushed through Congress as part of the must-pass “cromnibus” spending bill. Buried in the legislation were provisions that allow trustees of severely underfunded multiemployer pension plans to cut retiree benefits, overturning 40 years of pension protections. Members of Congress and the public were not given time to examine these stealth provisions or to debate them. 

Since MPRA’s passage, retiree groups around the country have repeatedly called for the cutback provisions to be repealed, and the Pension Rights Center has started a story bank of statements from retirees who are worried about cuts to their pensions. If the Keep Our Pension Promises Act is not passed, benefits could be cut for as many as one million retirees in early 2016. 

Read the press release from Rep. Marcy Kaptur.

See photos from the Treasury hearing and the press conference on our Facebook page.

Watch videos of some of the speeches from the press conference on our YouTube channel.

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  • Our testimony to the Treasury Department at a hearing on proposed and temporary rules for retiree benefit cuts under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (September 10, 2015)

  • Our comments to the Treasury Department on proposed rules for retiree benefit cuts in the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (August 18, 2015)

  • Our comments to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation on proposed partition rules in the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (August 18, 2015)

  • Our summary of the retiree pension cutback provisions in the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014

  • Our multiemployer pension benefit cutback calculator (under the pension cutback provisions, this applies only to retirees under the age of 75)
  • list of multiemployer pension plans in "critical and declining" status
  • Our fact sheet on multiemployer plan funding in general (May 29, 2014)
  • Our summary of the Keep Our Pension Promises Act of 2015 

  • Our fact sheet on why the Keep Our Pension Promises Act should be passed

  • An explanation of the two tax loopholes that would be closed by KOPPA

  • An explanation of how KOPPA would help the Central States Teamsters Pension Fund 

  • Our story bank of statements from people who are worried about cuts to their pensions

  • Our press release on the introduction of the Keep Our Pension Promises Act of 2015 (June 18, 2015)

  • Our comments to the Treasury Department on the retiree cutback provisions of the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 in response to Treasury's Request for Information (May 26, 2015)

  • Our statement in response to a subcommittee hearing on multiemployer pension plans (April 29, 2015)

  • Our comments to the PBGC on partitions and mergers in multiemployer pension plans (April 15, 2015) 

  • Speech by Karen Friedman to the Pension Rights Committee of North Carolina (May 30-31, 2015)

  • Speech by Karen Friedman to the Pension Rights Committee of Minnesota (April 11, 2015)

  • Speech by Joellen Leavelle to the Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions (April 11, 2015)

  • Our press release on retiree pension-cut legislation included in omnibus bill (December 17, 2014)

  • Our press release on the U.S. House of Representatives voting to allow multiemployer pension plan trustees to reduce retiree benefits (December 12, 2014)

  • U.S. Senator Ron Wyden's statement opposing the pension cutback provisions (December 11, 2014)

  • Our press release: "Congress’ Holiday Present to Retirees: Slashing Their Pensions" (December 10, 2014) 

  • Tell Congress: Don’t make a last-minute deal to cut retirees’ pensions (PRC Action Alert) 

  • Our letter to Congress opposing "stealth" provisions that would cut retiree benefits in multiemployer plans (December 3, 2014)

  • A letter from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, opposing retiree benefit cuts (December 3, 2014)

  • Our statement to a House subcommittee on strengthening the multiemployer plan system (October 29, 2013) 

  • Our press release: Pension Rights Center Stands with Pensioners against Proposed Cuts (October 29, 2013)

  • Our statement on protecting retirees when making reforms to the multiemployer pension system (June 12, 2013)