New Front Opens in War on Pensions

If there is a bright side to the GOP government shutdown, it may be the decision by the House Education and the Workforce Committee to postpone an October 10 hearing to consider “pension reform” and changes to laws governing the nation’s multi-employer pension plans.

Unfortunately, the ominously titled hearing; “Strengthening the Multiemployer Pension System: How Will Proposed Reforms Affect Employers, Workers, and Retirees?” was only temporarily delayed and is expected to be rescheduled shortly.

An article in In These Times magazine, titled “The War on Pensions Goes Federal,” takes a hard look at the subject and correctly identifies who would gain from changes to the law, and who stands to lose.

More than 10 million U.S. workers are covered by multi-employer pension plans, including more than 88,000 covered by the fully-funded IAM National Pension Plan. Among the proposed “reforms” are changes to the 1974 law that forbids reduction in pension benefits for workers who have already retired.

“We are sharing our concerns among unions, lawmakers and retiree groups about this hearing and the deeply disturbing changes under consideration,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “The fight to protect workers’ retirement benefits is being fought on many fronts, but this particular battle has the potential to impact every one of the 44 million U.S. workers covered by a pension plan.”