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Butch Lewis Act to Protect Workers’ Pensions Passes House

Washington, July 24, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House of Representatives passed the Butch Lewis Act, which Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is a lead cosponsor, 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.

“For too long, hard-working men and women have lived in fear; not knowing what’s going to happen with their pensions. Nearly 45,000 Michiganders played by the rules, did everything right, and even gave up pay raises or benefits to ensure the retirement they worked a lifetime for will be there when they need it,” said Dingell. “This is the money hard-working men and women earned and counted on to retire with dignity and security – to afford to stay in their homes and afford their medicine. Now facing cuts, pensioners are desperate and scared of the future and don’t know where to turn. American workers have done their part, the House has done our part, now it’s time for the Senate to tell workers their pensions matter.”

Video of Dingell speaking on the House Floor is available here.

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-Majority 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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