2,400 Pennsylvania Workers Keep Their Pensions Thanks to Biden’s American Rescue Plan

President Joe Biden talks with workers after handing out ice cream sandwiches during a visit to a shipyard in Philadelphia, Thursday, July 20, 2023. Biden is visiting the shipyard to push for a strong role for unions in tech and clean energy jobs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

By Sean Kitchen

August 10, 2023

Without the relief provided by Biden’s American Rescue Plan, 2,400 machine and tech workers and retirees would have faced huge benefit cuts. This brings the total number of Pennsylvanians who have had their pensions saved by the American Rescue Plan up to at least 33,000 people.

More than 2,400 union members in Western Pennsylvania will keep their pensions completely intact thanks to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the federal government announced this month.

The affected workers and retirees are members of the IUE-CWA, the industrial division of the Communication Workers of America representing machine and tech workers.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which is a federal agency tasked with protecting the retirement incomes of more than 33 million Americans in private sector pension plans, announced that it would send $260 million in relief funding from the American Rescue Plan to the IUE-CWA Pension Plan. The plan is headquartered in Pittsburgh and has 13,700 participants across the country.

Without the help of the PBGC, the pension plan for the 2,400 CWA members was projected to become insolvent by 2029, which would have resulted in 15% benefit cuts.

This brings the total number of Pennsylvania workers and retirees who have had their pensions saved by the American Rescue Plan up to at least 33,000 people.

“The promise of a pension is a promise we’re supposed to keep,” US Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) said in a statement released earlier this month. “Thousands of Pennsylvania machinists and tech workers can rest easy knowing that the benefits they’re owed will be waiting for them when they retire.”

According to a press release issued by Casey’s office, this is the fifth Pennsylvania-based pension plan that’s received relief from the PBGC. Other pension plans getting help include the Western Pennsylvania Teamsters and Employers Pension Fund, the Carpenters Industrial Council Eastern PA Pension Plan, the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia Pension Plan, and the National Integrated Group Pension Plan, which includes the United Steelworkers and United Auto Workers.

Prior to the passage of the American Rescue Plan, the PBGC was set to become insolvent by 2026, but thanks to funding from the law, the PBGC created a Special Financial Assistance Program, which will allow the agency to remain solvent through 2051.

The new program will provide an estimated $74 to $91 billion in assistance to allow multiemployer plans to pay retirement benefits without reductions, protecting pensions of two to three million workers and retirees nationwide who would otherwise face cuts to their pensions.

 

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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