Congressman Tim Ryan Calls for Pension Protection

Jun 18, 2015 Issues: Helping Working Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning, Congressman Ryan, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) announced legislation to be introduced in the House and Senate to restore pension guarantees for thousands of retired union workers, undoing pension cuts that were included in a spending bill during the 2014 lame-duck Congress. They were joined by union leaders, pension advocates and retirees.

 
 

“Workers in this country are profit creators. Their work directly impacts any given company’s ability to earn a profit,” said Rep. Ryan. “Pensions are not ‘benefits’ given as a gift from employer to employee, they are payment for work that was already done. Workers and employers reach an agreement to be paid a lower salary in order to receive their pension at a later date. And when these pensions are cut or dissolved, it is a clear breach of contract and workers are being robbed. It’s that simple.”

“Hard-working retirees should not ever have to doubt their retirement security,” Sen. Sanders said. “We made a commitment 40 years ago to workers in this country that companies will never renege on a pension promise.  We need to restore that commitment.”

“Our pension system has allowed senior citizens to enjoy the fruits of years of hard work and receive the payouts they worked for a lifetime to earn,” said Rep. Kaptur. “However, 1.5 million pension participants, including current retirees, are in multi-employer pension plans that are in danger of running out of money soon through no fault of their own. Our legislation will restore anti-cutback rules so that retirees are protected from having their earned benefits cut- restoring a 40 year principal that retirees pensions should never be on the chopping block-- while also providing relief for participating employers. I encourage my colleagues to support this measure and correct the misstep that was included in the last-minute Omnibus funding bill last year.”

For more than 40 years, U.S. law prevented ongoing pension plans from cutting retiree benefits unilaterally. Last year however the laws governing multiemployer pension plans were changed as part of the 1,600 page Omnibus spending bill Congress passed to avoid a government shutdown. As a result, workers that gave up raises and other benefits to get a pension are now vulnerable to losing as much as 60 percent of their hard-earned benefits. More than 10 million Americans currently rely on multiemployer pension plans.