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Time to Celebrate! Congress Passes Legislation to Protect Retirees’ Pensions

For Immediate ReleaseContact: Karen Friedman, 202-296-3777
March 10, 2021www.pensionrights.org

The Pension Rights Center and workers and retirees across the nation are celebrating the passage of the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act, as part of the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 aid package. The Butch Lewis Act will protect the hard-earned benefits of about 1.5 million active and retired truck drivers, nurses and health care workers, plumbers and construction trade workers, bakery workers, musicians, and others.

“To say that we are ecstatic is an understatement,” said Karen Friedman, the Center’s Executive Director. “We have worked with grassroots activists and allied organizations for eight long years to push for a solution to the multiemployer crisis and we are now breathing a long sigh of relief that finally, finally Congress has acted to save their promised benefits. This is a historic day.”

The Butch Lewis Act will not only protect retirees’ pensions from devastating cuts, but also will stabilize their financially struggling plans while helping keep intact the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s (PBGC) multiemployer insurance program that backstops their benefits. The bill will also importantly restore benefits to tens of thousands of retirees and workers whose pensions were previously cut under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA).

The next step is for the Covid-19 package (called the American Rescue Plan) to be sent to the White House to be signed by President Biden.

The pension bill was named in honor of retired truck driver Butch Lewis, a Vietnam war hero and a respected Ohio Teamster leader who died while leading the effort to stop retiree pension cuts, authorized by the enactment of MPRA. Passage of this bill is a great tribute to the memory of Butch and a recognition by Congress that keeping pension promises is a fundamental American value and a crucial part of economic recovery.

“We’ve heard from so many retirees from so many places telling us they cried with joy when they learned that the bill passed and that their pensions are finally safe,” Friedman said. “It’s a great feeling to know that everyone’s hard work paid off. This is indeed a great triumph.”

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