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Miners, Teamsters Demand Senate Fix Multiemployer Pensions

October 22, 2019

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

WASHINGTON—Retirees from several unions joined Democratic senators on Capitol Hill Oct. 16 to demand that the Senate act on a bill to prevent endangered multiemployer pension plans from going bankrupt. “We need you, Congress, to stop kicking the can down the road,” said retired Teamster Mike Walden of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Multiemployer funds covering about 1.3 million workers and retirees have either already slashed benefits or are in danger of insolvency. The House passed a bill in July that would have the Treasury Department issue long-term bonds to stabilize them until the demographic bubble of more retirees than active workers has passed, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to bring it to the floor. “The Miners’ Pension Fund alone, a critical plan which covers 82,000 retired miners—25,000 in West Virginia—and 20,000 full vested current workers, is projected to become insolvent by 2022,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) said in a statement. If the Murray Energy coal company goes bankrupt, he added, coal miners could see “drastic cuts” to their benefits by September 2020. A spokesperson for McConnell told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the majority leader supports a bipartisan solution for pension reform. Read more

October 22, 2019

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