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Butch Lewis Act to Protect Pensions Clears Key Hurdle

Washington, June 11, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House Education & Labor Committee passed legislation to ensure multi-employer pension plans remain solvent and continue providing retirees and workers the retirement benefits they have earned. Dingell is a lead cosponsor of the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act, also known as the Butch Lewis Act.

“Hard-working men and women worked a lifetime, sometimes forgoing pay raises or other benefits, thinking the pension they paid into would be there for them in retirement,” said Dingell. “The pension crisis is causing stress and uncertainty in communities across the country. Congress must take action to bring relief to the tens of thousands of workers and retirees whose lives have been turned upside down by proposed cuts to their pensions. The Butch Lewis Act is one step closer to becoming law with its passage by the House Education and Labor Committee. This important legislation shores up multiemployer pension plans without taking a single penny from the retirement these workers have earned. 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 these benefits are there when they need them. American workers have done their part, now it’s time for Congress stand strong and not waver in our commitment.”

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 43,500 Michigan members. 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.

A summary of the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act can be found here, and full text of the legislation is available here.

Dingell has been fighting against proposed cuts to retiree pensions since coming to Congress. In 2018, she was appointed by then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Plans. Dingell 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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