U.S. House panel approves multiemployer pension reforms

AGC of America reports that, last week, the House Committee on Education and Labor approved the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act (more commonly known as the Butch Lewis Act) which provides low-interest loans to troubled plans to allow them to pay benefits. Prior to the congressional hearing, a letter from AGC (and over two dozen AGC chapters), unions, plans, employers and employer organizations was delivered to Congress. The letter was based on the Common Sense Principles for Multiemployer Pension Reform which was adopted by a number of stakeholders last month, including AGC.

AGC views the growing multiemployer pension crisis and the legislative solutions under consideration from Congress as having dramatic impacts on healthy and distressed plans alike. The goal of the letter was to demonstrate the broadest impact on the entire multiemployer community and urge Congress to act in a responsible manner.

Reform efforts must include realistic, achievable solutions that will restore the solvency of distressed plans and maximize benefits for participants, while not harming plans that are financially healthy or undermining plans with viable rehabilitation efforts underway. Any new funding for distressed plans must not be financed by healthier plans and must be shared across those impacted. Employers cannot be handcuffed with increased withdrawal liability or unsustainable contribution rate increases. Plans must also be given the option to adopt new plan designs including composite plans.

The bill approved today will likely pass the full U.S. House later this summer but is unlikely to be considered in the Senate as drafted. AGC will continue to work with policymakers on enacting achievable and responsible reforms to the multiemployer pension system consistent with the Common Sense Principles for Multiemployer Pension Reform.

AGC members with questions can contact James Young of AGC of America at 202.547.0133.