September 24, 2015
By John Quinn, LaborPress USA
Washington, DC — The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) has initiated a major lobbying effort involving unions members, retirees, the Pension Rights Center, AARP and other pension advocacy groups in Washington, D.C. to support 'Keep Our Pension Promises Act of 2015'. The bill will “Stop the Cuts” in pension benefits that are looming for retirees in troubled multiemployer pension plans.
“There can be no real retirement security if your pension can be cut after you retire,” said IAM International President R. Thomas Buffenbarger in a letter to Congress. “The overwhelming majority of retirees do not have the means to increase their income either because of health issues or age discrimination. Allowing cuts in promised benefits is a ticket to poverty and dependence on government assistance.
Cutbacks in retiree benefits, except in plans completely out of money, had been prohibited under ERISA for more than 40 years. In 2014, Congress passed the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MRPA), ending the anti-cutback rule by allowing “deeply troubled” plans to cut the pensions of current retirees. The Treasury Department is holding hearings on implementing regulations for the MRPA, one of the last steps before thousands of retirees face benefit cuts.
The 'Keep Our Pensions Promises Act' would restore the anti-cutback rule and provide alternate, sensible solutions to strengthen troubled multiemployer plans.
“While most pension plans are properly funded, some have funding challenges because of deregulation, bad trade policies, and the financial mistakes of Wall Street. Retirees should not be made to unjustly suffer because of issues that they had no involvement in,” said Buffenbarger. “The 'Keep Our Pension Promises Act' restores the anti-cutback rule, a fundamental tenet of retirement security for millions of Americans in multiemployer pension plans.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) introduced the 'Keep Our Pension Promises Act' in their respective chamber of Congress.