05.15.17

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Calls on Trump Administration to Protect Worker and Retiree Pensions

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin joined a group of 14 Senators, led by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), in outlining the importance of protecting pensions for workers and retirees.  The Senators requested information from the Administration on its plan to address critical issues in the multiemployer pension system. 

“As you may know, millions of American workers and retirees - through no fault of their own - are at risk of losing a substantial portion of their pensions because their plans are at imminent risk of becoming insolvent and being unable to pay earned benefits on time and in full,” wrote the Senators.  “Some multiemployer pension plans across the country, including Central States with its more than 400,000 participants, are in dire financial situations.”

“Accordingly, we write to request clarity regarding the Administration’s plans to address critical issues in the pension system:

  1. Does the Administration intend to release a plan to protect American workers and retirees and improve the security of our multiemployer pension system? If so, what is the timeline for the release of this plan?

  2. Do you commit to making your participation on the PBGC’s Board of Directors a priority?

  3. Does the Trump Administration intend to work with pension plans to improve their funding before the plans approach insolvency?”

The letter was sent to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and signed by the following Senators, in addition to Senators Stabenow and Baldwin: Gary Peters (D-MI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Al Franken (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). 

 

The text of the letter is available below:

 

May 11, 2017

 

Hon. Steven Mnuchin                                                             Hon. Alexander Acosta
Secretary of Treasury                                                              Secretary of Labor
15th Street, NW                                                                      200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230                                                           Washington, DC 20210

 

Hon. Wilbur Ross
Secretary of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230

 

Dear Secretaries Mnuchin, Acosta, and Ross:

We write today to seek information regarding your plans to improve the security of our multiemployer pension system for American workers and retirees.

As you may know, millions of American workers and retirees - through no fault of their own - are at risk of losing a substantial portion of their pensions because their plans are at imminent risk of becoming insolvent and being unable to pay earned benefits on time and in full.  Some multiemployer pension plans across the country, including Central States with its more than 400,000 participants, are in dire financial situations. Even worse, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the federal agency that insures the retirement incomes of the millions of American workers who participate in multiemployer pension plans, projects that its insurance program for these types of plans could itself become insolvent as early as 2025. Absent action by the Trump Administration and Congress, the financial stability of the PBGC will be compromised and the retirement benefits American workers and retirees were promised will face deep—and in some cases catastrophic—cuts.

The Secretaries of the Treasury, Commerce, and Labor serve on the Board of Directors for PBGC, which requires strong and stable leadership to ensure that it can meet its future financial challenges. Through your role on this Board, you have the important responsibility of addressing the security of our pension system and developing a long-term strategy to fund and stabilize the PBGC. As the head of your agency, you also control resources that can be devoted to ensuring that workers receive the benefits they have earned through their lifetime of hard work, and are in a position to put forth proposals to ensure that these benefits are protected. 

Cuts in promised retirement income that leave retirees unable to afford to pay for their homes, let alone pay for their prescriptions or put food on their tables, are not the answer. Accordingly, we write to request clarity regarding the Administration’s plans to address critical issues in the pension system:

  1. Does the Administration intend to release a plan to protect American workers and retirees and improve the security of our multiemployer pension system? If so, what is the timeline for the release of this plan?

  2. Do you commit to making your participation on the PBGC’s Board of Directors a priority?

  3. Does the Trump Administration intend to work with pension plans to improve their funding before the plans approach insolvency?

Thank you for your prompt attention to these important issues for American workers and retirees.