The House approved late Thursday a package of reforms available to struggling multiemployer pension funds, as part of a congressional spending deal that the Senate must vote on by Saturday.
The controversial package, which allows the most distressed multiemployer plans to cut retiree benefits to prevent plans from becoming insolvent and winding up at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., also increases PBGC multiemployer premiums to $26 per participant from $13.
Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, R-Minn., and ranking member George Miller, D-Calif., the bill's co-sponsors, said in a statement that the changes will “help prevent the collapse of failing plans and better protect workers' retirement security.”
The package also clarified a PBGC funding regulation for plan sponsors in the process of shutting down operations. The change more narrowly defines when it can be enforced.
But retiree groups decried allowing retirees' benefits to be cut. “It is a travesty that, in the year of the 40th anniversary of the landmark private pension law, ERISA, the House has swept away a fundamental and sacred principle of the law,” said Karen Friedman, Pension Rights Center executive vice president, in a statement.