WASHINGTON, June 18 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today he’s working to win passage of a bill that reverses a proposal passed last year that could result in deep pension cuts for retirees and workers in multi-employer pension plans.
Sanders said his plan will protect the pensions of up to 10 million Americans.
“Hard-working retirees should not ever have to doubt their retirement security,” 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.”
The issue centers on multi-employer pensions in which hundreds of companies have banded together to manage and provide pension benefits for their workers. Those retirement plans are different and less well known than single employer plans, where one company sets up a pension plan for their workers only.
Last December, Congress approved and the president signed a spending bill that included provisions that allow for dramatic cuts to financially troubled multi-employer pensions – which currently affects 1.5 million retirees. Under this provision, the pension benefits of retirees could be cut by 30 percent or more. Before the law was changed, it was illegal for an employer to cut the pension benefits retirees have earned.
“If we do not repeal this disastrous law, retirees all over this country could see their pensions cut by 30 percent or more. We cannot let that happen. Instead of asking retirees to take a massive cut in their pension benefits, we can make these plans solvent by closing egregious loopholes that allow the wealthiest Americans in this country to avoid paying their fair share of taxes,” Sanders said.
Sanders’ bill establishes a legacy fund within the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to make sure that multi-employer pension plans can continue to provide pension benefits to every eligible American for decades to come. This legislation is paid for by eliminating a loophole in the estate tax and a tax break on sales of expensive art and other collectibles.
Sanders announced his plan this morning at a news conference outside the Capitol where he was joined by representatives of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the Teamsters.
One of those workers was by Frank Bryant, 74, who worked 31 years as a truck driver for UPS and said he’s worried that his hard-earned pension may be cut.
The same version of the bill was also introduced yesterday in the House by Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who also joined Sanders at the Capitol. Sanders bill is co-sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis).