Pension Rescue Law Providing Critical Assistance to Growing List of Plans

Pension Rescue Law Providing Critical Assistance to Growing List of Plans


By David Brandolph

The Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 (BLA) continues to provide an important lifeline to financially challenged multiemployer pension plans, and in turn, has already brought monetary and mental stress relief to hundreds of thousands of retiree-plan-members, their spouses, families and their communities.

As of August 3, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the federal agency tasked under the statute to administer and distribute special financial assistance (SFA) funds to eligible plans, had approved over $52 billion in SFA to 31 plans that cover over 750,000 workers, retirees, and beneficiaries. The agency’s latest projection report estimated that 211 plans would ultimately be approved for SFA to the tune of about $79.7 billion.

Congress anticipated that funding under the BLA, which was enacted as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, would keep recipient plans afloat for at least 30 years. As a result of the Act, PBGC projects that its multiemployer insurance program, which backstops plans, is likely to remain solvent for more than 40 years. That’s an incredible accomplishment given that, before the BLA became law, PBGC projected that the multiemployer program would be insolvent by Fiscal Year 2026.

Since April 27, PBGC has approved new SFA applications for 15 plans, including its June 29 thumbs up for two larger plans–the 64,522-member PACE Industry Union-Management Pension Fund, headquartered in Nashville; and the 48,254-member National Integrated Group Pension Plan, in Scranton, PA.

When PBGC in early May approved SFA for the 7,230-member Office and Professional Employees International Union Western States Pension Plan, headquartered in Portland, OR, Cathy Green, of Lake Stevens, WA., was among the plan’s members happy to get the good news:

“I was devastated when I and thousands of other retirees had our benefits cut by 30 percent under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA). However, because of the passage of the Butch Lewis Act, our full benefits were restored and I now have financial security for my basic needs. I thank PRC and members of Congress, including my Senator, Patty Murray (D-WA),” Green told PRC.

Of the 18 plans that cut the benefits of their members under MPRA, PBGC has approved SFA aid for 13 of them, covering 121,252 workers and participants.

The Central States Pension fund, which was approved for aid in December, received in January about $35 billion in SFA that it can now use to pay benefits to its 357,000 members.

Below is a list of plans that have been approved for SFA in 2023. The status of all SFA applications can be found here.

List of plans approved in 2023

Plan Location # of Participants
UFCW Local One Pension Plan Oriskany, NY 19,177
IUE-CWA Pension Plan Pittsburgh, PA 13,760
Newspaper Guild International Plan Washington, DC 13,760
Automotive Industries Pension Plan Dublin, CA 23,680
Retail Clerks Specialty Stores Pension Plan Concord, CA 1,279
Composition Roofers Local 42 Pension Plan Cincinnati, OH 495
PACE Industry Union-Management Fund Nashville, TN 64,522
National Integrated Group Pension Plan Scranton, PA 48,254
Office and Professional Employees International Union Western States Pension Plan Portland, OR 7,230
Excavating, Building Material, Construction Drivers and Race Track Employees IBT Local 436 Plan Cleveland, OH 1,461
United Furniture Workers Pension Fund Nashville, TN 8,434
United Independent Union – Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia Pension Plan Philadelphia, PA 2,566
Bakery Drivers and Salesmen Local 194 and Industry Pension Fund North Brunswick, NJ 1,155
Plasterers Local 82 Pension Fund Portland, OR 317
Alaska Ironworkers Pension Plan Anchorage, AK 744


Not sure where to start but have questions?

Contact us >

Sign up to receive updates from us:

Do you want to stay up to date on the latest retirement news and recent happenings at PRC?

Sign up to receive emails from us:

Click here >

Support the Pension Rights Center:

In today’s challenging pension environment, our work is more important than ever. Your contribution will help make it possible for the Center to continue its crucial role as a national consumer organization committed to protecting and promoting retirement security.

Donate >