Members of the panel will have until November to craft a plan that would be put before the House and Senate with an up–or–down votes. Under the agreement reached Wednesday, neither the House nor the Senate will be permitted to amend the agreement.
At issue are multi–employer pensions created in order to allow employers to pool resources and provide their workers retirement security. The plans, negotiated by a union, are run by trustees selected by the union and employers. For years, most plans ran at a surplus.
But market crashes between 2000 and 2009, corporate bankruptcies which reduced the number of companies paying into the plans and new laws have rendered many plans virtually unsalvageable. While some 10 million workers are served by 1,400 multi–employer plans nationwide, some 150 to 200 plans, covering 1.5 million workers and retirees, could run out of money within the next 20 years, according to the Pension Rights Center. Among them: Central States, a pension program that claims some 50,000 members in Ohio.
In 2015, Central States, which is slated to run out of money within the next 20 years, created a plan that would have slashed benefits dramatically for members. The Treasury Department rejected the plan, but those who paid into Central States’ pension system for decades know that their pensions are at grave risk.
In a statement Monday, Brown said Congress “has responsibility to protect the pensions workers earned before it is too late.”
“This Committee will force Congress to finally treat the pension crisis with the seriousness and urgency American workers deserve,” he said.