IAM President Buffenbarger Defends Retiree Pensions

May 12, 2014
By Neal Tepel

Washington, DC – The president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is calling on members of Congress to reject any legislation that allows pension fund administrators to reduce or eliminate the pension benefits of retired workers.

“There is an effort afoot in Congress to repeal the current law that prohibits cuts to the fixed pension incomes of U.S. retirees and their surviving spouses,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “While there is a genuine retirement crisis in this county today, the solution must not be borne by retirees who worked hard and faithfully contributed to their pension plans and have no practical means to replace lost income.”

A proposal being promoted by the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP) calls for amending the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to allow trustees of “deeply troubled” plans to cut the retirement benefits of existing retirees. The IAM and allies in the labor, retiree and pension rights community are adamantly opposed to repealing ERISA’s “anti-cutback rule” protections as a means to shore up underfunded plans.

“Despite the economic crisis of 2008, the vast majority of multi-employer pension plans in the U.S. are still adequately funded and fully able to meet their obligations,” said Buffenbarger. “The deeply troubled plans deserve at least the same support and protection that Congress gave to the Wall Street bankers who caused the problems in the first place.”

The IAM is urging Congress to consider alternatives to the NCCMP proposal, including reasonable increases in PBGC premiums, adequate government funding for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) and allowing alliances and mergers of poorly-funded and healthy plans.

*** The IAM is one of the largest industrial trade unions in North America, representing more than 600,000 active and retired members in dozens of industries.

May 9, 2014

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