December 14,2020

Grassley, Alexander Joint Statement on Multiemployer Pension Relief and Reform Negotiations

WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following joint statement on multiemployer pension relief and reform negotiations.
“Over a year ago, we released a proposal to avert the collapse of critically underfunded multiemployer pension plans, which are private-sector pensions sponsored by more than one employer and negotiated as part of a union collective bargaining agreement. Our proposal also reformed the rules for these plans to prevent future funding shortfalls within these important pillars of the American retirement system.
“For the past two weeks, we have engaged in intense negotiations with our Democratic colleagues in the Senate and House to seek a deal to resolve the impending multiemployer pension crisis. 
“Our objective has been to provide relief for the failing multiemployer pension plans that cover about 1.5 million retirees and help secure the retirement benefits of millions of other retirees that are at risk should the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s insurance fund start to run dry in 2026, as currently projected. While we agree that significant federal funds will be needed to solve the current crisis, reforms are essential to ensure the multiemployer pension system can be self-sustaining and honor benefit promises over the long term instead of relying on taxpayers to bail out a private-sector system in perpetuity. 
“Since we introduced our multiemployer pension relief and reform plan last November, we have worked to strike that balance between relief for today’s failing plans and reforms to ensure taxpayers don’t have to bail out the system again in the coming years. The foundation of our reform plan is that all stakeholders have a role in fixing the system from the employers, unions and pension plans to the employees and retirees. 
“We have gone into the recent discussions in good faith and know that our colleagues have as well. While each side has agreed to make significant changes, we have yet to find an agreement that satisfies our respective principles and objectives for resolving this situation. We have reached the point where we are out of time to strike an agreement that can be scored by the Congressional Budget Office and reviewed by our Senate and House colleagues to include in an end-of-year package. However, we remain committed to finding a solution and will continue looking for a balanced, sensible approach to resolve this increasingly critical problem.”