WASHINGTON – The Pension Rights Center issued the following statement on the death of former Senator Howard Metzenbaum. The Senator, who was honored as a “Pension Champion” at the Center’s 20th anniversary celebration in 1996, died yesterday at the age of 90.
“Senator Metzenbaum was a wonderful man and an extraordinary advocate for the pension rights of workers and their families,” said Center Director Karen Ferguson. “In his 20-year career in the United States Senate, he played a pivotal role in closing unfair loopholes in the nation’s pension laws.
“The Senator was instrumental in the passage of the Retirement Equity Act of 1984, which provides important pension benefits to millions of widows and divorced women. As Chairman of the Senate Labor Subcommittee, he led the effort in the late 1980s to stop pension raiding, a practice in which companies end their pension plans in order to use the ‘surplus’ money in them for other purposes. He was also a principal co-sponsor of the legislation that created the U.S. Administration on Aging’s Pension Counseling and Information Program, which helps thousands of people each year get the pension money that they’ve earned.
“One of Senator Metzenbaum’s last acts in the Senate was to introduce a ‘Pension Bill of Rights,’ a comprehensive reform measure that established basic principles for the existing voluntary pension system. These principles include the right for all employees to earn benefits fairly, the right to have a say in how their money is invested, and the right to be protected against and compensated for any mismanagement of their pension money.
“We are still working to achieve these principles, but we are grateful to Senator Metzenbaum for his legacy. His vision, compassion, and sense of fairness helped to improve the lives of millions of American workers.”