Real People, Real Implications

I frequently read about issues within our pension industry, and there are many. Sometimes, and I am embarrassed to admit this, I fail to connect the problem that is being discussed with the harm that the issue in question brings to the individual(s) being impacted. For those of you who regularly read this blog, you know that I’ve written quite a bit about the Butch Lewis Act (legislation to help critical and declining multiemployer plans), and plan participants, such as Carol (8/28/18, 1/24/20, etc.), that desperately need to see this legislation passed in order to have their full benefits that were promised to them restored.

Clearly, Carol is not the only one being impacted by the ability of struggling multiemployer plans to “renegotiate” benefit payments to current and future retirees through MPRA (2014 pension “reform”). Below I present another example of a participant (Robert) whose benefits were slashed to the tune of 67.5%! Please think about your personal circumstances and whether or not you could sustain such a hit and not be financially (or mentally) devastated. Here are Robert’s words as printed in a recent Op Ed:

I worked at Yellow Freight/YRC for 27 years driving a forklift in Buffalo, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and in Maybrook, New York. My full pension was $2,600 a month, which I got for a year and a half. For the last 4 1/2 years, I’ve received $845 a month after my Road Carriers Local 707 pension fund went insolvent.” “We need the Butch Lewis Act to pass, to help those in multiemployer pension funds like mine.” Robert McGonigal, Clearwater, Florida

I am so sorry to read about your specific circumstance, Robert. It is not acceptable to me that our government is permitting plans to renege on the promise that was made to plan participants, who in most cases funded a portion of the benefits through the deferral of hourly raises. As a reminder, there are roughly 1.4 million American workers in these struggling plans that could see dramatic reductions, like those of Carol and Robert, without some form of pension relief. I prefer the Butch Lewis Act, and I think that most multiemployer plans do, too. It is time to get this done. The harm that is being wrought is truly unacceptable.

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