I’m happy to share with you today a wonderfully written article by Eleanor Laise, Reporter, Barron’s Group, who effectively captures the human toll inflicted by MPRA legislation that saw 18 multiemployer pension plans slash promised benefits to their participants. Highlighting the conversation in Eleanor’s article is Carol Smallen, who I had the pleasure of first speaking with in August 2018 and whose story I shared on several occasions within this blog. Carol’s story is heart-wrenching, but regrettably, not unique! Importantly, Eleanor also introduces us to several other individuals who have been severely impacted by developments within a subset of the multiemployer pension plan universe.
When we, as an industry, discuss issues related to DB pension plans it is easy to get lost in the debate surrounding various investment theory/strategies, and often neglect the true reason why it is so important that these issues are addressed – the plan participants, who are our relatives, friends, and neighbors. These hard-working Americans went to their jobs each and every day with the expectation and understanding that they were entitled to a pension upon retirement that was going to be based on years of service and other elements. Why was it okay that the promise that they were given was not kept? We need to keep fighting for these individuals and for all American workers, who should have access to a defined benefit plan. Defined contribution plans were intended to be supplemental to DB plans, and not Social Security.
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