WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01) joins Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and eight bipartisan colleagues in introducing the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act – commonly called “The Butch Lewis Act” – which addresses the nation’s worsening multiemployer pension crisis.
Currently, there are about 1,400 multiemployer plans covering about 10 million people across the country. Although multiemployer pension plans have been successful historically, today, a significant number of these plans have funding problems, and many are almost certain to run out of money. If they do, retirees, workers, and their families would lose benefits earned over a lifetime of work, through no fault of their own.
“I participated in the multiemployer pension system for 37 years, as both a rank-and-file worker and a negotiator. I know that millions of workers have earned their pensions and deserve safe, secure retirements,” said Congressman Norcross, an electrician by trade. “After the financial collapse, Congress acted to take care of Wall Street. If you can save the banks, you can save the people. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues from both parties to solve this crisis and keep the needs of hardworking men and women front and center.”
“We all know retirees with failing multiemployer pension plans who now find themselves in a devastating predicament – from truck drivers to autoworkers to ironworkers, these Americans live in all of our communities,” said Chairman Neal. “In fact, there are 1.5 million Americans who are in plans that are quickly running out of money. These are American workers who planned for their retirement, who year after year chose to contribute to their pensions instead of taking a wage increase. Now, after working for decades, their planned retirements may be taken away from them. And taken away at a time when they no longer have time to prepare for retirement because they’re now in retirement. There’s no time to waste in addressing this crisis, and that’s why I’ve chosen to make this the first piece of legislation I introduce as Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee.”
The bill establishes the Pension Rehabilitation Administration (PRA), a new agency within the Department of the Treasury, authorized to issue bonds in order to finance loans to “critical and declining” status multiemployer pension plans, plans that have suspended benefits, and some recently insolvent plans currently receiving financial assistance from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). The PRA would be headed by a Director, who will have a term of five years and be appointed by the President.
Additional original co-sponsors of the legislation are Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).
A summary of the bill can be found HERE, and full text of the legislation is available HERE.
Contact: Ally Kehoe, Communications Director