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Resources for Multiemployer Reform

Date Published: 
Tuesday, April 10, 2018

This is a critical time for retirement security. Thousands of retirees and workers in certain underfunded multiemployer plans – Cleveland Iron Workers Local 17, New York State Teamsters and Teamsters Local 707 in New York, among them – have already lost a big share of their hard-earned pensions. More than a million more could also lose benefits if their pension plans apply to cut benefits under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA). There are currently as many as 130 plans that are eligible to apply to cut their retirees’ benefits.

There is an urgent need for congressional action to develop a common sense, comprehensive solution to save underfunded pension plans and protect the benefits of workers and retirees, as well as to protect employers from bankruptcy and put the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation on a path to solvency.

To address this critical issue, leaders of both parties in Congress struck a bipartisan deal as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to establish the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans. This Committee is charged with developing recommendations and legislative language to solve the crisis of underfunded multiemployer plans by November 30th, 2018.

The Committee is composed of 16 members, divided equally between the House and the Senate and the majority and minority parties. Members of the Joint Select Committee are expected to hold at least five public hearings and meetings throughout this year to hear from stakeholders across the country. The first public meeting was held on March 14.

Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) will co-chair the Committee. The other Committee members are Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Tina Smith (D-MN), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Michael Crapo (R-ID), Rob Portman (R-OH), Congressmen Phil Roe (R-TN), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Richard Neal (D-MA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), and Congresswomen Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI).

The Committee will be meeting to explore a range of solutions. Among them will be the Butch Lewis Act which was introduced at the end of 2017 by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Congressman Richard Neal (D-MA). The Butch Lewis Act would establish a loan program to lend money to financially-troubled plans. Plans would be required to use the loans to pay the full benefits of retirees, either by buying annuities from insurance companies or other equally protective measures. The Joint Select Committee members will likely be exploring other options, including those that would require shared responsibility among retirees, workers, and employers.

It is important that everyone whose pensions have been cut or could be cut contact the members of the Committee to urge them to craft a strong, comprehensive solution that protects the full benefits of workers and retirees.

Here are some resources you may find helpful:

Read about the Joint Select Committee:

  • Check out the Committee's website
  • Read this press release to learn how to submit comments to the Committee
  • Read our blog post about the Committee's first public meeting
  • Read our blog post about the Committee's first hearing
  • Read our blog post about a rally and field hearing in Columbus, Ohio

Read about the Butch Lewis Act:

Other PRC resources you may find helpful if your plan is applying to the Treasury Department to cut your pension:

Recent News articles about Multiemployer Pension Plans