Senators Release Multiemployer Pension Reform Plan

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) released a summary of their Multiemployer Pension Recapitalization and Reform Plan, which addresses the multiemployer pension funding crisis and aims to reform the system. The plan would:

  • Increases the flat-rate premium paid by multiemployer plan sponsors from $29 per participant to $80 (same as single employer program);
  • Withholds between 3 percent and 10 percent of multiemployer plan participants’ monthly benefits – exempting disabled members or those over 80 years old – starting in October 2020 to cover “retiree co-payments”;
  • Raises the monthly guaranteed benefit amount for multiemployer plan participants;
  • Makes it easier for employers to partion “healthy” and underfunded plans; qualifying plans include the soon-to-be insolvent Central States fund, Road Carriers Local 707, and United Mine Workers of America (applicants must file within one year of enactment to claim the special treatment);
  • Sanctions new, non-PBGC insured, “composite” multiemployer pension plans featuring pre-set contribution levels and fluid benefit payments; and
  • Makes changes to how withdrawl liability is calculates

The plan does not include several provisions included in the Democratic solution to the multiemployer pension crisis (H.R.397) but is expected to further the negotiations on a bipartisan solution. Sens. Grassley and Alexander’s plan does have the backing of many in the business community, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as the current declining state of some multiemployer pension plans is a severe risk for employees and their employers.

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