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Retirees to Congress: Protect Our Pensions!

For Immediate ReleaseContact: Joellen Leavelle, 202-296-3776
May 09, 2017www.pensionrights.org

Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Marcy Kaptur Reintroduce Bill to Save Retiree Pensions

WASHINGTON – The Pension Rights Center joins retirees, members of Congress and others in declaring today a Day of Action to call attention to the threats to the retirement security of millions of workers and retirees covered by the financially-troubled multiemployer pension plans. To date, 15 plans covering more than 500,000 workers and retirees have applied to cut retiree pensions and more than 60 plans covering nearly one million workers are eligible to do the same. In February, Iron Workers Local 17, based in Cleveland, Ohio, became the first plan to implement 50 to 60 percent cuts to retiree pensions. These cuts would have been unthinkable were it not for a 2014 law that for the first time allowed plans to cut retiree pensions years before the plans were projected to become insolvent.

“Today’s Day of Action calls attention to the very real crisis threatening workers and retirees,” said Karen Friedman, the Center’s Executive Vice President and Policy Director. “Unless the law is changed, retirees in multiemployer pension plans are at risk of devastating cuts to their primary source of retirement income. Already, retirees like Dan Wargo have had their pensions cut by more than half.”

Today’s Day of Action coincides with the reintroduction of the Keep Our Pension Promises Act by Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Marcy Kaptur. The bill addresses the crisis facing multiemployer pensions by creating a Legacy Fund in the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation that would assist severely underfunded multiemployer plans with paying retirees the pensions they have earned. The Legacy Fund would be paid for by partially repealing two tax breaks that benefit wealthy investors.  

The impact of retiree pension income on local communities cannot be overstated. The consequences of the collapse of the multiemployer pension system would have devastating effects on local economies throughout the nation. The National Institute on Retirement Security estimates that 3.8 million people received approximately $39.4 billion in pension benefits from multiemployer pension plans in 2014. Without this valuable pension income, retirees will not be able to contribute to their local economies

“This a fundamental issue facing American workers who did the right thing all their lives. They are only asking to get the pensions they earned; nothing more, nothing less,” wrote Karen Friedman in remarks prepared for today’s press conference to introduce into Congress the Keep Our Pension Promises Act of 2017.

 

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