Saturday, April 23, 2016

32,000 Missourians Participating in Central States Pension Plan Face Severe Cuts

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill this week joined the top-ranking Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and the top-ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, along with more than 40 other Senators, to send a message to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew about the Central States Pension Fund’s application to reduce its participants’ pension benefits under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014.

McCaskill and her colleagues noted that the Treasury Department’s decision on the application will have enormous stakes for the 270,000 retirees in the plan who face potential cuts, with a significant number of those retirees facing cuts of 50 percent and, in some cases, more than 70 percent of their monthly pension.

In Missouri, more than 32,000 individuals participate in the Central States Pension Plan and are at risk of a severe pension cut.

“In light of the enormous stakes for the 270,000 CSPF retirees, we expect Treasury to conduct a thorough analysis and carefully check every aspect of CSPF’s application and their assumptions,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “…We ask that you proceed with a careful analysis when making a determination on this application. It is of utmost importance that Treasury gets this right.”

Before the Treasury Department makes a decision on the application, the Senators requested Secretary Lew to carefully consider several aspects of the application, including whether market conditions were appropriately taken into consideration, if investment assumptions in the application were reasonable, if future employer contribution assumptions were realistic, and if the Central States Pension Fund pursued all other reasonable measures before considering cuts.

“This comes at a time when workers, retirees, and surviving spouses across the country are worried about the state of their pensions,” the Senators’ letter stated. “They contributed to their pensions over the course of many years – making the sacrifices of giving up better pay or improved benefits, or even staying in a physically exhausting job that took them away from their families – so they could earn a pension that they believed could never be taken away.”

McCaskill is co-sponsor of The Keep Our Pension Promises Act, which would repeal the “benefit suspension” provisions of the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act enacted at the end of the last Congress,which she opposed. Those provisions allow the trustees of certain financially-troubled multiemployer pension plans to reduce the benefits of retirees and their widows and widowers.The Keep Our Pension Promises Act would ensure that Missouri pensioners will continue to get their full benefits.

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