As House Returns to D.C., Tackling Worker Safety, Paid Leave, Government Funding is Also Paramount
Press Contact: Galen Munroe Phone: (202) 439-7427 Email: [email protected]
(WASHINGTON) – With the House returning at the end of the week, the Teamsters are urging lawmakers to take quick action and pass new broad stimulus legislation that would boost the broken multiemployer pension system, improve the health and safety of all essential workers and include increased funding for state and local governments.
The continuing coronavirus crisis in this country is testing American systems like never before. That’s why legislation is needed to protect hard-earned pensions of both workers and retirees. Since this pandemic crisis began, Teamster members have urged Congress that a solution for struggling multiemployer pension funds should be a part of federal legislation to stabilize and stimulate the economy.
The House majority’s HEROES Act (H.R.6800) contains the Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act that would require the federal government to set up a partition program at the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) to rescue financially troubled multiemployer pension plans without cuts to benefits.
“The shutdown of the U.S. economy caused by COVID-19 has greatly amplified the financial struggle of multiemployer pension plans,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “Hundreds of employers are now facing bankruptcy and cannot contribute to multiemployer pension funds. Employees have lost their jobs and the sharp drop in interest rates have hit plans hard. We applaud the House majority’s action and support the Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act. The Senate needs to Act to protect pensions now!
Unfortunately, the House bill also includes the controversial GROW Act, which permits the creation of so-called composite plans. The Teamsters are deeply disappointed at the inclusion of the GROW Act, as it is unproductive and will prove to be divisive moving forward. The union urges the Senate not to retain this proposal in the final negotiated bill.
More than a million Teamsters are deemed essential workers, working in health care, transportation, grocery, food processing, warehouse, sanitation and corrections, just to name a few. These members and others like them need to be protected with comprehensive and enforceable safety standards in the next stimulus bill that comes to a vote on Capitol Hill.
We continue to review the newly released House bill, but we are encouraged by apparent inclusion of important Teamster priorities like the Every Worker Protection Act (HR 6559) which requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a temporary emergency standard that covers all workers, including public sector employees in states that have not opted into OSHA coverage.
The bill also appears to support workers by eliminating the 500 employee cap on federal mandates to provide paid leave and provides Federal subsidies for extension of COBRA health insurance.
At a time when some in big business are taking advantage of federal funding meant to help workers and small businesses, elected officials must move rapidly and make sure future legislative fixes put people first by retaining these good worker protections and more in the final negotiated stimulus bill that moves to the President’s desk.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visitwww.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.