The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee approved a bill June 11 that would rescue failing multi-employer pension plans. H.R. 397, also known as the Butch Lewis Act, passed the committee by a 26-18 vote along party lines, with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans against.
If it ends up passing the full House and the Senate, the measure would help the 100 or so union-sponsored multi-employer plans that are headed for insolvency, by giving them 30-year low-interest federal loans to shore up their assets. H.R. 397 is backed by the AFL-CIO and numerous unions.
It’s estimated that about 1 million union workers, retirees and their dependents are in plans that are headed toward insolvency because of the financial crash of 2008. Congress bailed out the banks back then, but has up to now been reluctant to provide any help to the roughly one in 10 union pension funds that were sent into a tailspin by the crash.
“The hard-working and tax-paying American workers whose retirement income security is at risk have not forgotten the 2008 record-setting federal rescue that provided hundreds of billions of dollars to troubled financial firms,” AFL-CIO legislative director Bill Samuel told the House committee. “These workers are no less worthy … Indeed, unlike those entities, they played no part in creating the crisis at hand; throughout the years, they sacrificed wage increases in favor of contributions to their pension plan.”