Keeping up the Efforts to Protect Retirement Security

Retirement security remains a key focus of Rapid Response this year. The work began with a joint SOAR-Rapid Response action that ultimately generated over 20,000 postcards destined for U.S. Senators and Representatives. It continued at the 2018 Rapid Response and Legislative Conference in May, where retirement topics were featured. When hundreds of active and retired members descended upon Capitol Hill for meetings with lawmakers during that conference, we raised the issue and delivered the postcards.

Now, the effort continues with a push to protect the hard-earned benefits of our members in two financially troubled multiemployer pension plans*, the PACE Industry Union-Management Pension Fund (PIUMPF) and the National Integrated Group Pension Plan (NIGPP).

Protect Our Pensions Campaign

Our union has always played a key role in safeguarding retirement security. For example, the USW was central to the enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. That law created a government-run, privately-funded, insurance program to protect pension benefits called the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). When a crisis unfolded in the steel industry resulting in closure after closure, it was this law that ensured the pensions of impacted Steelworkers didn’t disappear. Prior to the law, there was no protection for workers.

Today, we have a new challenge. For some multiemployer pension plans, we’ve seen a perfect storm of hardships that’s pushed them from secure financial footing into distress. Plant closures from bad trade policy, a massive loss of assets due to the financial crisis of the Great Recession, and other factors have left PIUMPF and NIGPP in a troubled financial situation, putting the benefits of current and future retirees at risk without government action. This is an issue impacting many workers outside of our union as well. In total, a million people could see their pensions in jeopardy. The magnitude of the problem is putting the future solvency of a portion of the PBGC that deals with multiemployer plans into jeopardy.

Many of the circumstances that landed the plans in their current state had to do with government decisions and unforeseeable changes in industry. Government decisions also determine how these plans can operate. That’s why our union is actively involved once again in working with Congress to find solutions.

There is a bipartisan committee made up of Senators and Representatives who are tasked with developing recommendations and legislative language designed to significantly improve the solvency of multiemployer pension plans and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. They have until November 30, 2018. We’ve launched a campaign to encourage action and ensure that pensions are protected.

Get Involved!

If all or a part of your pension is in PIUMPF or NIGPP, please reach out to Rapid Response, either in your District or by calling 412-562-2291. We’re currently holding meetings and asking impacted members to write letters to key Senators and Representatives, along with other actions.

Not in either of those plans? We have other ways you can show solidarity. Feel free to contact your District Rapid Response Coordinator to get invovled.

The more we all speak out, the better our chances for a productive solution to all of our retirement security concerns, whether that’s regarding Social Security, Medicare, or our current fight over multiemployer pensions. We’ve worked too hard for our retirement. Let’s make sure it’s there for all of us.

*Multiemployer pension plans are created by collective bargaining agreements between at least one labor union and two or more employers, often in the same industry.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222