Protecting Retirement Security

All workers have the right to retire with dignity and respect.

In fact, retirement security that includes Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid was the second highest rated issue in our "Your Union. Your Voice." survey.

The USW has fought for decades to help pass meaningful legislation to protect workers’ retirements. Given the direct link between government policy and how it can either help or hinder our retirement security, our union stays relentlessly engaged in those debates.

Protecting Retirement Savings During Bankruptcies

Prior to 1974, if a company went bankrupt, workers had no recourse if their pensions disappeared.

Our union fought for protections for pensions and ultimately was successful in helping enact the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the law that established the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

ERISA was designed to protect retirement savings from mismanagement and abuse and clarify that the people in charge of those savings be held to a high standard – that is, they must act in the best interests of plan participants.

It also requires transparency and accountability, ensuring that participants have access to information about their plans. Over the years, we have worked to ensure any updates to the law had our members’ best interests in mind.

Safeguarding Social Security

Social Security, much like a pension, operates on the promise that if workers defer wages (pay a payroll tax), it will be there when they retire.

We have all heard the myth that Social Security will go bankrupt at some point in our lifetimes, but this is simply not true. We do understand, however, that changes such as increasing the wage cap, would safeguard and shore up the fund.

Recently, an executive order was signed giving employers the option to allow workers who earn less than $100,000 a temporary deferment (ending in January of 2021) on payroll taxes.

There are some that even want to make this permanent. The catch is that workers will be expected to repay the deferred taxes owed, and these taxes are the only source of funding for Social Security and Medicare.

If the executive order were to be made permanent, Social Security as we know it would cease to exist, effectively breaking the promise and ensuring that workers never see the return on their investment.

Fighting to Protect Pensions

When government decisions, bad trade policy, automation, and a financial crisis combined to create the perfect storm to throw some of our members’ multiemployer pension plans into distress, the USW got to work to find a solution.

The Butch Lewis Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation emerged as the answer we could fight for. Butch Lewis creates a trust fund to make loans to qualified multiemployer pension plans that are in critical and declining status. These loans would be used to stabilize these plans and paid back over time, safeguarding the retirement security of millions of Americans.

After years of Rapid Response pushing petitions, letters, phone calls, and meetings with legislators to educate them on the issue and urge their support, Butch Lewis was passed in the House in July 2019. Today Butch Lewis sits in the Senate Committee on Finance with 39 bipartisan cosponsors, waiting to be scheduled for a hearing.

We continue to urge the Senate to pass the Butch Lewis Act today!

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