Building Trades

Multiemployer Pensions Need Safeguards

August 6, 2014
By President Sean McGarvey, North America's Building Trades Unions

Washington, DC – This week marks the beginning of a month-long recess for the United States Congress. Senators and Representatives will be home in their respective districts meeting with their constituents and assessing the level of concern over the issues of the day.

We must seize this opportunity to educate, inform and encourage congressional support for a bi-partisan, labor-management approach that will soon be introduced and which is specifically designed to safeguard retirement security for multiemployer plan participants, protect taxpayers and spur economic growth.
The U.S. economy is starting to show signs of life. Construction investments are projected to be on the increase for the foreseeable future. In several areas of the nation, the boom is already in full swing and local building trades unions are at or near full employment.
And our message of value is beginning to resonate with industry, government and community leaders which, in turn, is helping to position the union construction industry for once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to secure market share gains.
However, those prospects could be jeopardized if we don't secure the necessary changes to strengthen and secure the current multiemployer pension system for the long-term.
That is why business and labor have created a package of reforms entitled, Solutions Not Bailouts (, that will hopefully soon be introduced in the U.S. Congress with both Republican and Democratic sponsors.
The Solutions Not Bailouts approach will spur economic growth, not just by ensuring that retiring workers have income they can spend, and by making participating employers more competitive, but also by strengthening the fiscal security of businesses – including many of our contractors.
With that in mind, I am urging all state and local building trades councils to secure face-to-face meetings with members of Congress over the August recess to educate them on this issue, and to urge their support for a bi-partisan solution and ensure that it is given a vote this fall.
Additionally, I am strongly encouraging you to involve your local contractors in these meetings as well, as there is never a more powerful and effective statement as when business and labor demonstrate a united show of support on a given issue.
To assist you with your meetings, we have prepared a package of informational materials.
When you have a meeting confirmed, contact Tom Owens, our Communications Director (202-756-4623;, so that he can track the meetings being scheduled and provide you with the materials you will need to conduct a successful meeting.
This is the top legislative priority for North America's Building Trades Unions for the remainder of this congressional session, and the significance and urgency of this issue for our industry cannot be overstated.
We need the active and engaged involvement of all councils and all local unions in order to impress upon members of Congress the need to push for the speedy introduction and passage of these reforms this fall.

August 5, 2014

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