Congressman Tim Ryan Introduces the Prioritizing Our Workers Act
Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan introduced the Prioritizing Our Workers Act (H.R. 2619). This legislation revises the priorities section of the bankruptcy code to place unpaid vested benefits on the same level as bankruptcy attorneys’ fees and other highest-priority claims that a company must pay out in full before paying any other claims. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate. To read the bill, click here.
“Pensions are not ‘benefits’ given as a gift from employer to employee, they represent payment for work that was already done. In 2016 alone, over 146,000 individual pensioners experienced cuts in their pension benefits. This is a clear breach of contract and these hardworking men and women are being robbed – it’s that simple. Every day, these Americans went to work with the understanding that their future was secure, and we must ensure they receive their hard-earned wages when they retire. I am proud to introduce this bill today,” said Congressman Ryan.
Workers who choose to make contributions to a pension plan are electing to set aside a portion of their wages in order to earn pension benefits in their retirement. Yet, when a business who sponsors one of these funds goes out of business, it is often the pensioners who are left with losses. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) estimates 146,000 individual pensioners experienced cuts in pension benefits due in 2016 as a result of employer bankruptcies. The Prioritizing Our Workers Act would re-define claims for unfunded vested benefits in defined benefit pension plan as “administrative expenses” of the estate, which, under bankruptcy law, must be paid before all other claims. The bill puts pension benefits on the same level as bankruptcy attorneys’ fees and other highest-priority claims that a company must pay out in full BEFORE paying any other claims.