U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Press Release

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Announces Legislation to Restore Retirement Security to 10 Million Americans

"It’s time for Washington to respect the hard work of American workers and make sure that the promises made to them are kept."

By - May 9th, 2017 01:19 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today introduced legislation to protect the pensions of up to 10 million workers and retirees.

The Keep Our Pension Promises Act would reverse a provision passed in 2014 that could result in deep pension cuts for millions of retirees and workers in multi-employer pension plans. Senator Baldwin joined Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) in introducing the legislation. Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) introduced a companion bill in the House.

“It’s time for Washington to respect the hard work of American workers and make sure that the promises made to them are kept,” said Senator Baldwin. “A secure retirement is a central pillar of economic security for our working class. The Keep Our Pensions Promise Act ends a loophole and tax break for the wealthy so we can protect the retirement security families have worked for, planned for and depend on.”

“We have got to send a very loud and clear message to the Republican leadership in Congress and the president of the United States. When a promise is made to the working people of this country with respect to their pensions and retiree health benefits that promise cannot be broken,” said Senator Sanders. “If Congress can bailout Wall Street, we have got to protect the pension benefits of American workers.”

“Pensions are deferred income and retirees are owed these earned benefits. My bill with Senator Sanders ensures that we do right by our people,” said Representative Kaptur. “I thank the cosponsors of the Keep Our Pension Promises Act in the House and Senate and I urge the rest of my colleagues to come to the table and support this bill. I will fight every day to defend retirees. No matter where retirees draw their retirement, whether it is a pension, a 401k or Social Security, Americans deserve financial stability and security in their older years.”

In December 2014, Congress approved and the president signed a spending bill that included provisions that allow for dramatic cuts to financially troubled multi-employer pensions. Under this provision, the pension benefits of retirees could be cut by 30 percent or more. Before the law was changed, it was illegal for an employer to cut the pension benefits retirees have earned.

The legislation establishes a legacy fund within the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to ensure that multi-employer pension plans can continue to provide pension benefits to every eligible American for decades to come. This legislation is paid for by closing two tax loopholes that allow the wealthiest Americans to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

Senators Baldwin, Sanders and Franken announced the legislation at a press conference where they were joined by representatives of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the National United Committee to Protect Pensions and the Pension Rights Center.

Senator Baldwin has worked closely with workers and retirees across Wisconsin, including the Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions in Milwaukee and Green Bay, to make sure the promises made to them are kept. This week, Senator Baldwin sent a letter to the Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to call for a hearing on the Central States Pension Fund and the multiemployer pension fund crisis.

A summary of the legislation is available here.

A copy of the bill text is available here.

Watch the press conference here.

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