Pension Rights Center’s Pension Promises Initiative

Solving the Multiemployer Pension Crisis

The Pension Rights Center’s Pension Promises Initiative (PPI) is a multi-year, multi-faceted education and grassroots effort created to help solve the multiemployer pension crisis – a goal largely attained in 2021. PPI is supported by the RRF Foundation for Aging as well as organizational and individual contributors.

Building a Grassroots Movement

Throughout the Initiative, we partnered with allied organizations and helped mobilize thousands of retired truckdrivers, warehouse workers, iron workers, musicians, spouses and widows across the country to promote the need for a comprehensive federal solution to save severely underfunded multiemployer pension plans and protect the benefits of workers and retirees – who stood to lose huge portions of their pensions if their plans failed. By early 2021,18 pension plans had already slashed the benefits of tens of thousands of workers and retirees under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA), a misguided law passed in 2014 to allow plan trustees to cut benefits as a way of shoring up failing plans.

Advocating on Behalf of Workers and Retirees

To address the issue, the Pension Rights Center helped organize retirees, educate policymakers, and spread awareness in the media about the retirees’ unfair plight and the economic consequences of letting the multiemployer system collapse. We organized press conferences and rallies, wrote fact sheets and blogs, filed comments with the Treasury Department on behalf of retirees, gave speeches to retiree groups, posted messages on our Facebook page and Twitter feed, and submitted op-eds that were published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Newsweek, and the Hill, among other news outlets. PRC has also been sought out and quoted in dozens of articles appearing in publications such as the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the L.A. Times, Pensions & Investments, Law 360 and Bloomberg Law. Our staff have given interviews to electronic media such as NPR and The Ralph Nader Radio Hour.

A Historic Victory

Inspired by the passionate and persistent advocacy of retirees, along with stakeholders on all sides who demanded a solution, the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. The Butch Lewis Act will preserve and restore the pensions of more than one million retirees and workers who belong to an estimated 225 severely underfunded multiemployer pensions plans.

The Pension Rights Center’s Pension Promises Initiative is now educating workers, retirees and the media about the new law and who will benefit (see our fact sheet). We are also monitoring the implementation of the new law by the federal pension insurance agency, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Do you have questions about multiemployer pension plans?

See our Multiemployer Pensions issue page for more resources.

The History of the Pension Promises Initiative

Here’s a history of the multiemployer saga moving back in time from the present back to 2014 when MPRA was passed.


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