U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today to hold the second hearing of the bipartisan House-Senate committee tasked with solving the pending pension crisis threatening small businesses and 1.5 million workers and retirees nationwide. More than 60,000 Ohio workers and retirees are at risk.
Today's hearing provided an opportunity to highlight what's at stake as the Committee works together to pass a bipartisan solution by the end of this year.
"There are more than 100 multiemployer pension plans on the brink of failure, more than 1.5 million workers and retirees across this country at risk of losing their retirement security after lifetime of hard work, and small businesses in jeopardy of collapsing if they end up on the hook for pension liability they can't afford to pay," said Brown. "Today's overview hearing highlighted just what's at stake as this Committee works to solve the pension crisis. Failure is not an option when millions of American are counting on us."
Numerous Ohio pension plans, including the massive Central States Teamsters Pension Plan, the United Mine Workers Pension Plan, the Ohio Southwest Carpenters Pension Plan and the Bakers and Confectioners Pension Plan are currently on the brink of failure. The Ironworkers Local 17 plan has already had to cut benefits. If nothing is done to the plans, they will fail and retirees will face massive cuts to the benefits they earned over decades of work.
If the plans are allowed to fail, not only will they no longer be able to pay promised benefits, but taxpayers would be at risk of having to pay billions because the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) would be on the hook for billions of dollars it cannot pay. PBGC is the arm of the federal government that insures pension plans.
Brown has been fighting to solve the pension crisis for years. Earlier this year he secured the creation of the Committee as part of the overall budget compromise. At Brown's urging, the Committee will have instructions to report a bill by the last week of November, and will be required to hold at least five public meetings, including the option of field hearings outside of D.C., so members of Congress can hear directly from retirees, workers and businesses affected by the pension crisis. The solution the Committee produces will be guaranteed an expedited vote in the Senate without amendments.