American union workers are warning against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) coronavirus relief package over worries that it will gut employees’ pension plans.
House Democrats passed their coronavirus relief package, dubbed the HEROES Act, this weekend despite labor unions’ pleading that the legislation will destabilize their pensions at an already uncertain time.
In a letter signed by a number of unions, labor leaders said the relief package will weaken the pension system overall and leave workers vulnerable to having benefits and contributions cut in the near future.
“Composite legislation is deeply flawed because it allows multiemployer plan trustees to ‘refinance’ their obligations to workers and retirees in the existing plan over 25 years instead of 15 years, so they can divert money to start a new composite plan,” the letter stated. “This weakens the existing plan and leaves neither plan — the existing plan nor the composite plan — with enough money to pay promised benefits.”
Read the full letter here:
The letter was signed by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the International Assoc. of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), the Musicians for Pension Security, the Pension Rights Center, the SEIU, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the United Steelworkers, and the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust.
Previous analysis by the Western Conference of Teamsters warned that drastic cuts to workers’ pensions are necessary under such a policy.
“A typical, mature composite must cut workers’ on-going benefits by 70 percent and their previously earned benefits by 25 percent … Additionally, the legacy plan must still cut workers’ previously earned benefits by 21 percent,” the analysis stated.
Labor leaders for the United Steelworkers (USW) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) likewise urged their members to write letters to Congress demanding the provision be removed from Pelosi’s HEROES Act.
Leaders with IBEW sent around literature to members saying the provision will “bail out employers.”
“IBEW opposes composite pension plans because they will sharply reduce pension benefits for current workers and retirees, eliminate employer withdrawal liabilities, and threaten the viability of the federal pension insurance program,” the literature states.
Economic populists on the left came out against Pelosi’s HEROES Act, noting its inclusion of a massive tax break for the top one percent of billionaires and millionaires by eliminating the cap on the SALT deduction. The relief package allows employers to hire illegal aliens over unemployed Americans at cheaper wage rates without facing prosecution by federal agencies.
The relief package now moves to the GOP-controlled Senate where it is unlikely to pass in its current form.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.