WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a federal bailout for a pension fund largely benefiting Teamster workers and retirees, saying that cuts to those pension benefits that were scheduled to occur within the next few years are now “not going to happen.”
“Thanks to today’s announcement, tens of thousands of union retirees and workers in states like Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, can go to bed tonight knowing their pension they worked so damn hard for is going to be there for them when they need it,” Biden said.
The $36 billion for the Central States Pension Fund will prevent benefits from being cut more than in half for more than 350,000 truck drivers, warehouse workers, construction workers and others, according to the White House.
- The bailout was made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion package passed last year in response to the pandemic.
- Financially struggling multiemployer pension plans can apply to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation for assistance.
- Before the act passed, more than 200 pension plans were on pace to become insolvent in the near term, according to the White House. Now, those plans are projected to remain solvent through at least 2051.
- The $36 billion for the Central Pension Fund is the biggest boost from the program, and the largest ever federal financial assistance for troubled pension funds, according to the White House.
Response to the pension fund announcement
Teamster workers and retirees joined Biden and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh at a White House event Thursday announcing the assistance.
Kenneth Stribling, president of the National United Committee to Protect Pensions, praised Biden , saying the president had “promised that he would protect our rights to a dignified retirement and the benefits we earn through auto through our life hard or through our lifetime of hard earned work and sacrifice.”
Stribling noted that he had made a promise to his late wife, Beverly, to help find a solution to protect pensions.
“I know she’s looking down on me, so I just want you to know sweetheart, I fulfilled your promise. I did not quit,” Stribling said.
“We found a solution with this man here,” Stribling added before introducing the president for his remarks.
Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien said in a statement that he is glad to “see elected officials stand up for working families for once.”
“This is an issue of fairness — of this country keeping its word to hardworking, honest people who did everything they were supposed to do in life,” O’Brien said .
Biden has said he’s goal is to be “the most pro-union president” in U.S. history. He held the first public event of his presidential campaign at a Teamsters Hall in Pittsburgh in 2019.
Critics, like George Mason University’s Charles Blahous, say the bailouts encourage “more of the irresponsible behavior that got pensions into trouble in the first place.”
Who is being helped?
Most states have workers or retires expected to benefit. The states with the most beneficiaries are:
- Michigan: 40,300
- Ohio: 39,900
- Missouri: 27,800
- Illinois: 25,000
- Texas: 22,500
- Wisconsin: 21,900
- Indiana: 19,600
- Minnesota: 19,300
- Florida: 18,700
- Tennessee: 14,200
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