Multiemployer Pension Reform Phase I Completed; Phase II Under Way
With enactment of the Multiemployer Pension Plan Reform Act of 2014, Phase One of the Solutions Not Bailouts (SNB) reform initiative is complete. The MCAA and the UA are now beginning the process of explaining the new law's complex provisions. Excellent explanatory material, from the O'Donoghue law firm and the NCCMP, is available below. We thank the UA for making these memoranda available to the MCAA membership.
Phase Two of our pension reform effort is already being planned as well, as MCAA and the other NCCMP coalition members work to dispel the many mischaracterizations of the measure that were leveled in the heat of the legislative battle, chief among them, the false claim that the law permits, or even requires, wholesale benefit cuts for retirees.
Now that the heat of legislative debate has subsided, responsible press outlets are coming around to a far more balanced assessment of the new law. For example, the Washington Post reports that, "In this mess of a mega-bill, there was one piece of bipartisan farsightedness. Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.) and George Miller (D-Calif.) crafted a provision that should help to ensure the sustainability of large, decreasingly solvent multiemployer/union pension funds that might otherwise fail and confront Congress with a choice between bailing them out or leaving retirees with nothing. The measure, which allows pensions to trim existing benefits, was the least painful option, as several key labor unions that supported it recognized. "Looking at the bill as a whole, we'd call this fair and responsible provision, the exception that proves the rule."
Our efforts on Phase 2 are underway, with a goal of enacting the remaining, less controversial part of the SNB proposal - the alternate plan design options for trustees and bargaining parties that decide to restructure their plans in different and more sustainable ways.