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Dingell Introduces Legislation to Protect Pensions Michigan Workers have Earned

U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) today joined colleagues in introducing the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, also known as the Butch Lewis Act, which ensures multiemployer pension plans remain solvent and continue providing retirees and workers the retirement benefits they have earned. Dingell has been fighting against proposed cuts to retiree pensions since the Central States Pension Fund threatened to cut retiree benefits by as much as 70 percent, impacting 273,000 current and future retirees, including an estimated 30,000 Michigan members.

“This legislation will bring relief to the tens of thousands of workers and retirees whose lives have been turned upside down by proposed cuts to their pensions,” said Dingell. “The working men and women I represent earned these pensions over a lifetime of labor and commitment. This is the money they counted on to retire with dignity and security – to afford to stay in their homes and afford their medicine – and we must do everything we can to ensure they have the benefits they have earned. This legislation addresses this crisis by shoring up multiemployer pension plans without taking a single penny from the retirement these workers were promised, and I am hopeful that we can advance it through the Congress as soon as possible. American workers have done their part, now it’s time for Congress to do ours.”

Some of the nation’s largest multiemployer pension plans, including the Central States Pension Fund, are on the verge of collapse because they don’t have enough money to pay promised pensions to retirees and workers. The Rehab Act would ensure that all promised benefits are paid by creating a new office within the U.S. Treasury Department called the Pension Rehabilitation Administration (PRA). The PRA would issue bonds backed by the U.S. Treasury to finance loans to distressed pension plans so they can remain solvent and continue providing retirement security for retirees and workers for decades to come.

The lead sponsor of the legislation is the House is Rep. Richard Neal (MA-01) while Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH) is leading the bill in the Senate. 

Dingell has been fighting against proposed cuts to retiree pensions since coming to Congress. Last year, she led a bipartisan coalition of 89 House colleagues in sending a letter to the U.S. Treasury Department urging the rejection of the application by Central States. Since the application was rejected in May 2016, Dingell and her colleagues have been working with all stakeholders to find a solution that will shore up multiemployer pension plans without placing an undue burden on workers and retirees.

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