We have long heard the phrase, “Elections have consequences.” This past election reflects the concrete truth behind the power of your vote and how it can be used as a force for positive change.Nowhere is it more apparent for many members than in the gains made for working families in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) that the Biden Administration, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have succeeded in passing. This piece of legislation put people and workers on the agenda by restoring the health of our nation — our economic and our physical health. Because of the change in the White House, as well as the slim pro-worker majority in Congress, the elected officials SMART endorsed were able to secure $86 billion in federal financial assistance to protect the retirement benefits of workers and retirees in critical and declining multiemployer pension plans.
Thanks to the victories obtained in the 2020 election, we are seeing relief for working families. We see legislation that finally benefits those who built America, and not the 1 percent…
Make no mistake, SMART’s Sheet Metal National Pension Fund is not among those listed as financially troubled. As a side note, SMART-TD railroad members mostly rely on Railroad Retirement. Over a decade ago, our leaders began addressing shortfalls in the retirement system that were being predicted, produced through no fault of the nation’s workforce. Due to the effects of the 2000 – 2001 recession, then 2008 – 2009 financial crisis and lax bankruptcy laws, Wall Street CEOs reversed their pension promise made to their employees while keeping their golden parachutes. We saw what the disastrous effects of these trends would look like and sacrificed to ensure our retirement funds would be secured for now and for future generations of members.
The retirement security included in the ARP is without any of the onerous strings that were previously put on the table by Senate Republicans and the past administration when pension aid was being considered. No 11-fold premium increase. No additional union or employer fees. No retiree tax/benet cuts. No devastating plan requirements.
After a lifetime of hard work, working people deserve to retire with dignity. We are proud of our negotiated multiemployer pension plans, which have provided retirement income security for millions of working people for decades.
However, since the 1980s, multiemployer plans have been jeopardized because of a series of bad policy decisions. Unfair trade deals decimated domestic industries, reckless deregulation toccurred in trucking and housing, and pension plan tax policy all were contributing factors.
The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated the dire situation for these plans and reinforced the need for immediate action. Last year’s layoffs across every sector of the American economy resulted in an unprecedented loss of plans’ contribution income.
Thanks to the victories obtained in the 2020 election, we are seeing relief for working families. We see legislation that finally benefits those who built America, and not the 1 percent who have received bailout after bailout and mammoth income tax cuts, only to leave the rest of us holding the bag. This Administration has held a laser-like focus on the other 99 percent of us and has committed to uphold the campaign promises from the past election. As you will see in this issue of the Members’ Journal, this includes COBRA assistance for those who lost their jobs during the pandemic as well as funding to ensure our brothers and sisters at Amtrak can return to work. It also equips sheet metal members with new work opportunities through funding to retrofit antiquated HVAC systems in our schools and public buildings. These are only a fraction of the pro-worker agenda items acted upon in this Administration’s first 100 days.
Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration and the Democratically led Congress, millions of Americans who worked their entire adult life to secure a safe retirement will have peace of mind.
Joseph Sellers, Jr.