It is being reported that Laborers Local No. 265, Cincinnati, has applied to the US Treasury Department for benefit relief under the Multiemployer Pension Relief Act (MPRA) of 2014. If approved, plan participants will see a 40% across the board reduction in their benefits. For many, this is likely to be a crushing blow. According to CIO magazine, there are seven plans that have applied and been granted relief since MPRA while another 10 are under review at this time.
We are never in favor of benefit reductions on the plan participants given the economic hardship that will be created. We are especially concerned at this particular juncture when legislation is being debated/crafted in Washington DC through the Joint Select Committee on the Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans. As regular readers of the KCS blog know, the Butch Lewis Act is one of the pieces of legislation being reviewed that would provide low-interest rate loans to Critical and Declining plans, of which Laborers 265 is one, that would likely extend the plan’s solvency long into the future (30-year loan).
“The Board of Trustees does not think it is reasonable to rely on the PBGC,” said the board in its recovery plan. We agree, which is why passage of the loan program under the BLA is incredibly necessary so as to eliminate the PBGC from this equation. As we’ve reported in previous blog posts, it is estimated that only about 1/8 of the promised benefit would be protected should the PBGC become involved. We cannot let that happen.