WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced the Pension Accountability Act to help protect Ohioans from having their hard-earned pensions cut with no say in the process. Portman’s bill aims to give workers and retirees a seat at the table when a looming multi-employer pension bankruptcy may require major pension cuts.

“Ohio retirees facing potential pension cuts deserve to have a voice in the process, and this bill fixes that,” Senator Portman stated. “Ohio workers have worked long hours for years, played by the rules, and paid into their pensions for decades. As a matter of basic fairness, they deserve a role in determining how to bring these pensions to solvency.”

“We, as active and retired participants in troubled multiemployer pension funds, appreciate Senator Portman and his staff’s commitment to give us a fair vote on any application for pension cuts,” said Mike Walden, Ohio teamster and Chairman of the National United Committee to Protect Pensions, speaking on behalf of all retirees in troubled multiemployer plans.  “Since the MPRA 2014 was enacted in December 2014, Senator Portman has fought for the participants in these funds to ensure they have a voice and seat at the table, which will help lead to a more fair and equitable solution to all.”

“I’m pleased Senator Rob Portman is reintroducing the Pension Accountability Act,” said Steven Sprague, a 44-year member of the Southwest Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters Pension Plan.  “The MPRA’s treatment of unreturned ballots as automatic ‘yes’ votes for any cuts is unacceptable, and this important bill will allow pension participants of multiemployer pensions a fair vote on their earned pensions.”

NOTE: The Pension Accountability Act has no taxpayer cost.  Original cosponsors include Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Deb Fischer (R-NE). The bill improves the Multi-employer Pension Reform Act (MPRA) in two ways:

  • First, for struggling pension plans seeking cuts, it will make the participant vote binding in all situations. This will give the workers and retirees a seat at the table to influence the solvency reforms. Their majority vote will be required for any pension cuts to occur.
  • Second, it will make this vote fair by counting only the ballots that are returned. Unreturned ballots will no longer be counted as a “yes” vote.

Portman praised the Department of the Treasury’s decision last year to reject the application from the Central States Pension Fund to reduce benefits by up to 70 percent.  He was vocal in urging the Treasury to reject Central States’ plan, calling instead on all involved parties to seek a better solution.

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