IBEW Political/Legislative
Affairs Department

   


IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson is asking active and retired IBEW members to take immediate steps to urge the Senate to reject a disastrous plan circulating in the Senate.

The plan, introduced by Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), is a recipe for the ruin of IBEW multiemployer pension plans, including the National Electrical Benefit Fund.

This plan, formally the Multiemployer Pension Recapitalization and Reform Plan, seeks to reform the multiemployer pension system, which is in crisis due to several large failing plans. The failure of these plans, including Teamsters’ Central States and the Mine Workers’, could threaten the security of the government program created to shore up the pension system, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

“They claim they are trying to help troubled pensions but the truth is that they are trying to kill America’s multiemployer pension plans, including ours,” President Stephenson said in the video message to members.

Stephenson: ‘They are Trying to Kill America’s Multiemployer Pension Plans’

 

   
A staffer, left, from Rep. Sean Maloney’s office meets with members of Albany
Local 236 John Mosher, Peter Classen and Mike Mastropietro.

This plan, released November 20, 2019, would:

  • Drastically raise fees on healthy pension plans like the NEBF
  • Increase the amount of taxes retirees pay on benefits, up to 10 percent
  • Turn “green zone” (healthy) plans and into “yellow” or “red” zone (endangered or critical) plans

“In the long run, all of these new fees and taxes would force nearly every pension plan to go broke,” Stephenson said. “It’s the single greatest threat to our retirement security we have ever faced.”

What Can You Do

Make the IBEW’s strong opposition to the Grassley-Alexander plan known to lawmakers by:

  • Showing up at official and campaign events
  • Scheduling meetings at in-state offices
  • Calling Senate offices (844) 551-6921. Scroll down for a sample script. Click here for additional talking points.
  • Send a Letter to the Editor to your local newspaper

Spread the word on social media. Here’s a graphic to post under #ProtectOurPension.
Click here for messaging guidance. 

 

Call Your Senator

  (844) 551-6921

The number above will automatically connect you to one of your senators. Please use the resources below to reach out to your second senator as well:

U.S. Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121
U.S. Capitol switchboard toll-free: (866) 338-1015
Here’s a list of the U.S.senators by state. 





   

IBEW members attend a rally on Capitol Hill last summer before the House passed the IBEW-backed Butch Lewis Act. Today, a new plan threatens the pensions of IBEW members.

Sample Telephone Script

Hello, my name is ________ and I live in _______.

I am an (active or retired) member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (if appropriate also identify as a veteran). I am calling the Senator to oppose the Grassley-Alexander “Multiemployer Pension Recapitalization and Reform Plan.”

This plan would bankrupt my pension plan and increase taxes on what little is left.

When big banks and Wall Street were in trouble, Congress gifted them with a $700 billion bailout in 2008. The multiemployer pension system, including the failing plans and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, could be made whole by taking back just one half of one percent of the 14-percent corporate tax break passed by Congress in 2017 at a cost of $1.4 trillion.

I (will or already) pay payroll taxes on my pension checks, and now the Republicans want to add 10 percent in additional taxes. The Grassley proposal would also:

  • Drastically increase Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) premiums
  • Create massive new taxes on the wealth of workers
  • Cap the discount rate at 6%, requiring plans to increase contributions and slash benefits.
  • Render our pension system unsustainable and result in government-induced market failure

This proposal is not bipartisan and no part of it is acceptable to me or the IBEW.

Congress needs to focus on finding solutions for failing plans, not devastate mine, which is in good shape. I urge the Senate to pass the bipartisan Butch Lewis Act, (H.R. 397), which passed the House on July 25, 2019, with IBEW support. It is a loan program, not a bailout.

Butch Lewis is the best current proposal because it does not increase premiums and fees on healthy pension plans to support failing plans.

The Mine Workers are most at risk and need immediate relief. I support the bipartisan American Miners Act (S. 2788).

IBEW members didn’t cause this crisis. We have only worked hard and counted on the multiemployer pension system to be there for us and our families in our retirement years. I hope you will stand with your constituents on this issue.

 Thank you.