Representative Susan Wild

Representing the 7th District of Pennsylvania

Rep. Wild Votes to Protect Pensions for Workers in Greater Lehigh Valley

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July 24, 2019
Press Release
Butch Lewis Act addresses the multiemployer pension crisis that is putting an estimated 1.3 million retirees, workers, and their families at risk of losing benefits they’ve earned over a lifetime of work

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Susan Wild (PA-07), a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, voted to pass H.R. 397, the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, historic, bipartisan legislation to address the nation’s impending multiemployer pension crisis that has put the retirement security of millions of Americans at risk - threatening workers, businesses, and our economy.

 

“The crisis facing multiemployer pension isn’t some far-away event,” Wild said. “It’s not about politics or ideology. It’s about people’s lives and whether or not they can retire in dignity after a lifetime of hard work. By 2025, the Central States Pension Fund and the PBGC will be insolvent. That means over a million employees and retirees’ earned benefits could disappear if we don’t act right now. Imagine working for 40+ years only to see your earned benefits wiped away. The consequences of inaction are detrimental for our local businesses, economies, and residents – ultimately affecting everyone, including thousands of workers right here in PA-07. We owe our workers action, and I am proud to stand up for the hardworking people of the Lehigh Valley by passing H.R. 397.”

 

Many multiemployer pension plans are in financial crisis. Soon, these failing plans will be unable to pay out the benefits owed to retirees. In Pennsylvania alone, thousands of workers are at risk of losing their pensions plans, including many in Pennsylvania’s Seventh District.  Making matters worse, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which insures private sector pension plans, is rapidly running out of money to backstop failed multiemployer pension plans. If plans fail, and if the PBGC’s multiemployer program becomes insolvent, retirees will see their pensions reduced to nearly zero. On top of this, there also will be catastrophic consequences for active workers and employers and would cost taxpayers between $170 billion and $240 billion over ten years due to lost federal tax revenue and increased reliance on social programs.

The Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, or Butch Lewis Act, is a bipartisan bill which establishes a Pension Rehabilitation Administration (PRA) within the Department of the Treasury. The PRA is authorized to finance loans to failing multiemployer pensions plans, plans that have suspended benefits, and some recently insolvent plans currently receiving financial assistance from the PBGC. Those pension plans that could not remain or become solvent with only a loan could apply to the PBGC for additional financial assistance in conjunction with a PRA loan. This bill protects retirees’ pensions and does not require benefit cuts.

 

Wild spoke on the House floor in support of the legislation. Her full remarks available below:

Thank you, Mr./Madam Speaker.

 

The crisis facing multiemployer pensions isn’t some far-away event. And it’s not about politics or ideology. It’s about people’s lives and whether or not they can retire in dignity after a lifetime of hard work. American people.

 

By 2025, the Central States Pension Fund and the PBGC will be insolvent. That means over a million American employees and retirees’ earned benefits could disappear if we don’t act right now.

 

This crisis doesn’t just affect those enrolled in multiemployer pension plans. If we don’t act, the consequences will be detrimental for our local businesses, economies, and residents-- ultimately affecting everyone, including millions of American families. Participants nationwide, including thousands in my district, could lose everything they have earned if we don’t act. These folks who came to watch the proceedings today never wanted a bailout, like my colleagues across the aisle termed it, they just want and deserve what they have earned. They deserve it. We need to pass this bill. We must pass this bill. For them, and for our country. 

 

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