The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) represents the more than 12 million men and women who make things in America. Many of these workers are participants in what are known as multiemployer pension plans, and they are counting on these pension benefits for the safe and secure retirement they’ve earned. Yet, there is a looming crisis that carries potentially dire implications for millions of retirees as well as devastating consequences for thousands of businesses across the country. This is a problem that demands the right solutions, and quickly, and that is exactly why the NAM today submitted recommendations to the special committee in Congress charged with doing so.
Congress established the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans to find a solution to the multiemployer pension crisis. The crisis arose as the Great Recession cratered the holdings of longstanding pension plans and baby boomers began retiring en masse, so multiemployer pensions began having to pay more in benefits out of a decimated investment pool. The backstop that Congress created in 1974 to support retirees and workers in this type of pension crisis, called the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), is instead now teetering on the edge of insolvency itself. The combined impact of failing multiemployer plans and an insolvent PBGC Multiemployer Program is serious and, in the absence of congressional action to solve the problem today, could soon prove devastating for millions of Americans. That’s especially true for the 10 million participants and their families who rely on more than 1,400 plans in the multiemployer pension system.
This is why the NAM acted today to urge the Joint Select Committee to address the urgent, and worsening, multiemployer pension crisis. As we laid out in our letter, we believe that policymakers have a unique and historic opportunity to put the multiemployer pension system on a path to stability. And, by adhering to a few core principles, such as working expeditiously to address the urgent problems facing the system, crafting a comprehensive multiparty solution and protecting the healthy single-employer system throughout the process, we believe they can.
This is a huge challenge, but the Joint Select Committee and Congress can solve it. A comprehensive, bipartisan solution is within reach. So we urge policymakers to meet the moment with the swift, comprehensive and appropriate action that this crisis demands.