Thread: MEP Watch
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Old 04-22-2013, 03:39 PM
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campbell campbell is offline
Mary Pat Campbell
Join Date: Nov 2003
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Studying for duolingo and coursera
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No, I did not.

Anyway, to provide some relevant quotes from GP's link:


The plan is the latest to address a chunk of the nation’s creaky retirement infrastructure. President Barack Obama’s budget proposal this past week could also lead to a reduction in Social Security benefits for retirees. And last week, the Government Accountability Office said the number of insolvent multiemployer pension plans could double by 2017.

Something must be done to shore up about 10% of the roughly 1,450 multiemployer pension plans in the U.S., pension experts say. The plans, which are funded by groups of employers in construction, trucking and retail food, and pay out a monthly check known as a defined benefit, are the backbone of the retirement security for 10.3 million retirees and current workers.

More than half of such plans are funded to at least 80% of their liabilities. That is up from one out of five plans at that level in late 2008, after the stock market tanked. But a minority is in far worse shape. As many as 150 multiemployer plans are headed toward insolvency, according to government projections.

For those troubled plans, unions and employers are proposing that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 be rewritten so that benefits for people who are already retired can be reduced. Without that fix, advocates argue, the plans will run out of money and retirees will end up with a fraction of their current benefits when the government takes over the plans.

Advocates say early cuts can stave off deeper ones down the road. Under the proposal, trustees from labor and management would determine how deeply to cut benefits to return the plans to solvency. One labor official said the cuts could take effect within a year of the decision.
Retiree advocates are raising red flags. Karen Ferguson, director of Pension Rights Center, a Washington, D.C., group that advocates for employees and retirees, said the union and management interest in the long-term survival of plans might conflict with the interests of older retirees who can’t afford to lose their income now. She said she thinks legislation should make sure retirees have input in the cuts, and that Congress should consider alternatives to the cuts.

David Blitzstein, who oversees multiemployer plans for United Food and Commercial Workers, said cutting benefits remains controversial for unions, companies and members of Congress. He participated in the 18 months of talks that led to the proposals. “It was a very tough bullet to bite for everyone in the room,” he said. Blitzstein said the majority of unions in the coalition supported cutting retiree benefits. The UFCW has openly endorsed it. It has retirees in about 60 multiemployer plans, covering 1.4 million people. He said cutting retiree benefits could be the only way to save about five deeply troubled plans, and added that it wasn’t clear how much benefits would have to be cut. “We haven’t modeled it yet in some of these really sick plans.”


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