An amazing “Day of Action”
To help retirees around the country fight back against proposed reductions in their hard-earned pensions, the Pension Rights Center organized a “day of action” on September 10. The day was an amazing success with more than 200 retirees travelling to DC from 11 states to ask government officials and members of Congress to “stop the clock” on pension cuts. Photos of the day’s events are on our Facebook page and all the press coverage can be found here on our website.
Highlights of the day included:
- A Treasury Department hearing. Members of the public were invited to testify before a panel of government officials about the benefit cutback provisions in the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA). The turnout for a public hearing like this was unprecedented: the vast majority of speakers and attendees were retirees, who spoke about the devastating effect benefit cuts would have on their financial security, and who asked officials to use their regulatory authority to minimize the harm. PRC Director Karen Ferguson also testified, suggesting technical changes to proposed regulations in order to better protect retirees.
- A Capitol Hill press conference. The Pension Rights Center coordinated with Congressional staff, retirees, and supporting organizations to hold a press conference after the Treasury hearing. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) spoke out against pension cuts and urged enactment of the Keep Our Pension Promises Act of 2015 (KOPPA), which would overturn the MPRA benefit cuts. James Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jimmy Conigliaro, General Vice President of the International Association of Machinists, and PRC Executive Vice President Karen Friedman also spoke in support of KOPPA. See video from the press conference here.
- A meeting with the Special Master. Later in the day, approximately 100 retirees were able to talk informally with Kenneth Feinberg, the Special Master who has been appointed by the Department of the Treasury to oversee the implementation of MPRA. While the Treasury Department can only implement the law, not change it, the Special Master told retirees that he and other government officials are listening to their concerns. He also said he will be happy to meet with retirees again once their pension plans apply for Treasury Department approval of proposed benefit cuts.
In addition, many of the retirees met with their elected representatives in Congress to urge support of the Keep Our Pension Promises Act. There are now a total of 30 co-sponsors in both the House and the Senate.
This day of action wouldn’t have been possible were it not for the dedication of so many retirees – those who came to Washington and those who couldn’t travel to D.C. but helped prepare for the big day. We’re also grateful to the hundreds of people who donated funds to help make these activities happen. We will continue to work to overturn these terrible benefit cuts and protect the pensions of the retirees who worked so hard to earn them.