(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – More than 10,000 union workers and retirees assembled on the grounds of the Ohio state Capitol today to let members of a joint congressional committee set to meet here tomorrow know they need to act quickly to protect the jeopardized pensions of some 1.5 million people. View more photos from the rally, here.
Union workers and retirees joined the leaders of the Teamsters, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union (BCTGM) in telling how cuts to their multiemployer pension plan benefits would devastate their lives and make it difficult to pay for their homes and medical costs.
Members of the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans are scheduled to hold a field hearing Friday at the state Capitol. The committee, which is comprised of eight senators and eight members of the House evenly divided by party, is tasked with reporting a bill by the end of 2018 that would solve the pension crisis.
As of now, the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund is facing an unfunded liability of $26 billion, the largest of all multiemployer plan shortfalls. Other threatened multiemployer plans face a total shortfall of $19.2 billion.
“America is facing a retirement crisis,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said. “Unions like the Teamsters, UMWA and BCTGM have known this for years. It’s time for the joint committee to find a legislative solution that will make them whole. They’ve waited long enough.”
“Millions of active and retired American workers depend on their pensions,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “They earned them, they were promised them, and they already paid for them in their collective bargaining agreements. Now their pensions are threatened through no fault of their own. Congress has a responsibility to save them, and it must act now.”
“It is vital that Congress address this country’s growing pension plan funding crisis – a crisis that threatens the financial security of hardworking Americans who have made sacrifices in order to maintain the benefits that will help sustain them in their retirement years,” BCTGM International President David B. Durkee said. “We commend the Joint Select Committee for asking to hear directly from the men and women who are affected by the pension funding crisis. There is so much at stake for millions of working families and retirees.”
In all, there are more than 300 multiemployer plans across the nation that are in danger of failing. That’s why unions are joining together to stress to the joint pension committee the importance of coming up with a solution as soon as possible.
The congressional pension panel, which is co-chaired by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and includes Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) as a key member, needs to find a vehicle that will deliver for these hard-working Americans who are paying, or have paid, into the pension pool and have played by the rules all their lives.