Last week, witnesses from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and businesses (including the UPS) told the Joint Select Committee on the Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans that should the estimated 150 to 200 multiemployer pension plans that are in danger become insolvent, the companies that paid into those plans would be held liable. That would drive many of the companies into bankruptcy. Under current rules, “employers cannot leave plans in crisis without paying large sums or declaring bankruptcy.”

To date, the committee has had one business meeting, held three hearings and will hold three more hearings: two in Washington, D.C. and one in the field. Led by co-Chairmen Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), it has until late November to find a solution. Congress must vote up or down on any proposed solution, with no amendments. Currently, Sen. Brown introduced the Butch Lewis Act (named after a Cincinnati-area retiree who died fighting against cuts to the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund) that would create a low-interest, 30-year federal loan to troubled pension plans, with no cuts to retiree benefits. However, Sen. Hatch made clear Wednesday that he is not convinced that Brown’s bill is the solution.”