May 13, 2020

Teamsters Say Final Stimulus Bill Must Retain Multiemployer Pension Partition Fix

With the House returning at the end of the week, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is urging lawmakers to take quick action and pass new broad stimulus legislation that would boost the multi-employer pension system, improve the health and safety of all essential workers and include increased funding for state and local governments.

The House majority’s HEROES Act (H.R.6800) contains the Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act that would require the federal government to set up a partition program at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to rescue financially troubled multi-employer pension plans without cuts to benefits.

“The shutdown of the US economy caused by COVID-19 has greatly amplified the financial struggle of multi-employer pension plans,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “Hundreds of employers are now facing bankruptcy and cannot contribute to multi-employer pension funds. Employees have lost their jobs and the sharp drop in interest rates have hit plans hard. We applaud the House majority’s action and support the Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act. The Senate needs to Act to protect pensions now.”

The Teamsters have also expressed disappointment that the House bill also includes the GROW Act, which permits the creation of ‘composite plans,’ and urge the Senate not to keep the proposal in the final negotiated bill.

More than a million Teamsters are deemed essential workers, working in health care, transportation, grocery, food processing, warehouse, sanitation and corrections, among other positions. “These members and others like them need to be protected with comprehensive and enforceable safety standards in the next stimulus bill that comes to a vote on Capitol Hill,” said a union statement. “We continue to review the newly released House bill, but we are encouraged by apparent inclusion of important Teamster priorities like the Every Worker Protection Act (HR 6559) which requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a temporary emergency standard that covers all workers, including public sector employees in states that have not opted into OSHA coverage.”

The bill also appears to support workers by eliminating the 500-employee cap on federal mandates to provide paid leave and provides Federal subsidies for extension of COBRA health insurance, according to the Teamsters’ statement.

“At a time when some in big business are taking advantage of federal funding meant to help workers and small businesses, elected officials must move rapidly and make sure future legislative fixes put people first by retaining these good worker protections and more in the final negotiated stimulus bill that moves to the President’s desk,” it said.

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