Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union visited Capitol Hill today to attend a U.S. House subcommittee hearing on the crisis facing multiemployer pension plans and to urge Congress to act to protect workers’ retirement funds.
Two dozen USW members and retirees attended today’s House Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing entitled “The Cost of Inaction: Why Congress Must Address the Multiemployer Pension Crisis,” and later visited with members of Congress to urge action to preserve workers’ pensions, particularly multiemployer plans. In particular, the workers urged Congress to pass H.R. 397, the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, also known as the “Butch-Lewis Act.”
The bipartisan House bill, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, would help to protect workers’ retirements by selling bonds and using the funds to bolster struggling multiemployer pensions through a long-term, low-interest loan program.
“A number of multiemployer plans are in financial distress – but their problems have nothing to do with these workers and their families,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “Retirees shouldn’t suffer because of bad trade policy, or poor business decisions, or because of lingering fallout from the Great Recession. This bill would make sure that American workers get the secure retirements they deserve.”
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, introduced a version of the “Butch-Lewis Act” in 2017.
Gerard wrote about the pension issue in his weekly blog, which readers can find at www.usw.org/blog. The USW also produced a video that includes personal stories about workers and retirees who are at risk of losing their pensions. Viewers can find that video at www.usw.org/protectourpensions.
“Too many American workers and retirees now live in fear that they may not receive the benefits they worked their entire lives to earn,” said David McCall, director of USW District 1, which represents thousands of USW members in the state of Ohio. “This bill would provide critical funding to troubled plans and provide security for millions of American workers and retirees.”
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors.