U.S. House committee passes bill to rescue failing union pension plans


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.”    


  1. I would be forced to use government assistance if I loose my pension!! If I had known it could be taken away from me I would have did something different! I was told the US government oversaw my pension and no one could take from me. They were talking about the PBGC .

    • Thomas, when Republicans took complete control of Congress in 2014 they passed a budget that allowed Unions to reduce the pensions of it’s members to as little as 10% in order to stay afloat. This was done for two reasons, one was to stick it to the Unions an to be able to flaunt how bad Unions are and two because they did want Government bailing out the Unions thru the PBGC. Republicans stole our PBGC funds and are foaming at the mouth to do the same with SSI and Medicare and every other safety net that the lower classes has.

  2. American workers should not live in fear of losing their hard-earned pension benefits. A 30-year loan to shore up pension assets is not a bailout. Wall Street received the bailout after it bundled bad mortgages, triggering the stock market crash of 2008. Pension funds lost billions of dollars. This financial burden should not be placed on the backs of hard-working Americans that played by the rules and did nothing wrong. For those who believe the Butch Lewis Act is a bailout, I encourage you to read a report released by the National Institute on Retirement Security titled “Pensionomics 2018: Measuring the Economic Impact of Multiemployer DB Pension Expenditures.” The report concluded that nationally each dollar paid out in pension benefits supported $2.13 in total economic output in 2016. The Butch Lewis Act helps all Americans.

  3. My wife has a lot of medical issues that we have to deal with on a daily basis and we have spent almost all of or savings for operations and medicine. We depend on my pension and our Social Security for our daily living expenses. I have worked for 34 years as a Teamster and earned every penny of my pension. The Butch Lewis Act is not a bail out like Wall Street and GM received it is a loan that will be paid back. I was a Sgt in the USMC and I not used to asking for anything, but I am asking for our government to do what is right to help all of American citizens to retire with what they have earned.

  4. The loss of my pension would mean I will go on welfare. When I go shopping at my local grocery, I will pay with food stamps and make the announcement, loud and clear: “The Republicans made sure I would be using food stamps because of their indifference!”

  5. I just recently retired putting in 34 years as a Teamster truck driver. Knowing that our pension fund will go insolvent in 5 years will be devastating for me, and my family. We all worked hard for our pensions. Please fix the mess that was created by Washington, DC.

  6. The Local 707 pension fund is in it’s 4th year with cuts now totaling 70%. Many of these retirees are holding on by a thread, or have already lost their homes, or cannot pay their medical needs, etc. etc. Other funds have also had cuts and many more will probably have them if something isn’t done immediately. Passing the H.R. 397 is not a bailout and should have been done by now. How would anyone feel if they had their income slashed to almost nothing without a clue that it would ever happen to them??? It’s not like these retirees are young, lost a job, and can go out and get another. Many are disabled, sick, or just too old to do so. What happened to the compassion in this world of ours?

  7. I spent 35 yrs working 50 plus hrs a week to make all my stops in all kinds of weather I he’d a perfect record till I had two hard attacks one on the truck I made it back to work till I had fo retire I loved my job now all I do worrow please help us thank you

  8. If teamsters would have recruited more members a few years ago the fund would have been ok. Stop the big salaries to fund managers. Make them pay their part like they should have all along.


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