December 10, 2014
The Honorable Louise M. Slaughter
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Representative Slaughter:
On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I am writing to express our strong opposition to the multiemployer provision included in H.R. 83, the Fiscal Year 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.
This provision would allow multiemployer pension plan trustees to reduce the earned and vested pension benefits of current retirees. A change of this significance could be devastating to the retirees and widows who rely on their pensions to meet day-to-day expenses. These hard working Americans, including truck drivers, grocery store clerks and construction workers, earned their pensions by contributing throughout their working lives to these funds, believing they were protected by The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
We understand that underfunded multiemployer pension plans represent only a small percentage (10-15 percent) of the 1,400 plans operating today. Allowing plans to break the fundamental ERISA promise – that pensions paid to retirees and their surviving spouses will not be reduced – represents an extreme response to a problem that can be addressed through other means by strengthening the funding of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
Additionally, the National Committee is deeply concerned that this provision could set a dangerous precedent for other defined benefit programs, such as single employer plans, public sector plans and Social Security. We believe a change this fundamental to the retirement security of Americans should be subject to a Congressional hearing and should be considered by the appropriate committees, with legislative language reviewed by Congress and the public, particularly those who will be affected by these reductions.
The National Committee urges you to reject this proposal which will lead to dramatic reductions in the hard-earned pensions of today’s retirees and set a troubling precedent for similar reductions to other pension and Social Security benefits.
President and CEO