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Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Marcy Kaptur Act to Stop Devastating Cuts to Retirees' Pensions

For Immediate ReleaseContact: Nancy Hwa, 202-296-3776
June 18, 2015www.pensionrights.org
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Marcy Kaptur Act to Stop Devastating Cuts to Retir

WASHINGTON – The Pension Rights Center strongly praised Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) for introducing legislation today that would repeal the pension cutback provisions of the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA). The Keep Our Pension Promises Act of 2015 would preserve retirees’ pensions while providing financial relief to troubled multiemployer pension plans, their contributing employers, and the federal pension insurance program, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Unless repealed, the pension cuts authorized by MPRA will be devastating to the financial security of hundreds of thousands of retirees in certain underfunded multiemployer plans. 

“By introducing the Keep Our Pension Promises Act, Senator Sanders and Representative Kaptur are taking action to right an injustice that threatens the financial wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of retirees,” said Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director for the Pension Rights Center. “We want to thank Senator Sanders, Congresswoman Kaptur, and the legislation's co-sponsors for recognizing how unfair the pension cutback provisions of MPRA are and for championing their repeal.”  Initial co-sponsors include Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Representatives Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).

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 make unprecedented cuts to 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. Efforts to get those provisions removed from the spending bill were unsuccessful in the face of an imminent government shutdown.

Since MPRA’s passage, retiree groups around the country have repeatedly called for the cutback provisions to be repealed. More than 100 retirees whose pensions could be cut attended today’s event introducing the Keep Our Pension Promises Act.

Frank Bryant, a retiree from North Carolina, spoke at the press conference. “I am 74 years old. I drove a truck for UPS for 31 years and retired in 2003,” said Bryant. “It was back-breaking work. By the end of my career, I think I put in over a million hours of driving in snow, sleet, fog, morning to night, in every condition. What kept me going was knowing that, at the end of my time, I was going to get a pension that was going to allow me to live comfortably in my retirement. If these cuts are allowed to go through, a lot of retirees’ lives will be ruined.” 

Retirees came to Washington from Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to show their support of the bill. “This is only the beginning,” said Bryant. “We are going to expand this movement to other unions, and other retirees, and get the retiree cuts stopped.”

See the Pension Rights Center's fact sheet on the Keep Our Pension Promises Act of 2015.

See the Pension Rights Center's fact sheet on why the cutback provisions of MPRA must be repealed and why the Keep Our Pension Promises Act should be passed.

Read Senator Sanders' press release about the Keep Our Pension Promises Act and watch a video of his remarks. 

Read Representative Kaptur's press release about the Keep Our Pension Promises Act and watch a video of her remarks.

Rep. Boyle and Rep. Ryan also spoke in support of the bill. Watch a video of their remarks. 

Retiree Frank Bryant came to D.C. with a group of retirees from North Carolina to support the bill. Watch a video of his remarks and closing comments from Senator Sanders.

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Additional resources:

  • Our summary of the retiree pension cutback provisions in the spending bill.

  • Our multiemployer pension benefit cutback calculator (under the pension cutback provisions, this applies only to retirees under the age of 75)
  • A list of multiemployer pension plans in "critical and declining" status (February 3, 2015)
  • Our fact sheet on multiemployer plan funding in general (May 29, 2014)

Related:

  • PRC's fact sheet on why the cutback provisions of MPRA must be repealed and why the Keep Our Pension Promises Act should be passed (June 18, 2015)
  • Speech by Karen Friedman to the Pension Rights Committee of North Carolina (May 30-31, 2015)
  • PRC 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)
  • PRC statement in response to a subcommittee hearing on multiemployer pension plans (April 29, 2015)
  • PRC 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 Minnesota (April 11, 2015)
  • Speech by Joellen Leavelle to the Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions (April 11, 2015)
  • PRC press release on retiree pension-cut legislation included in omnibus bill (December 17, 2014)
  • PRC 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)

  • PRC 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) 
  • PRC 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)
  • PRC's statement to a House subcommittee on strengthening the multiemployer plan system (October 29, 2013) 
  • PRC press release: Pension Rights Center Stands with Pensioners against Proposed Cuts (October 29, 2013)
  • PRC statement on protecting retirees when making reforms to the multiemployer pension system (June 12, 2013)

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