Brothers and Sisters,
Thanks in large part to Local 150 members’ activism, the committee considering a devastating plan to attack our pension fund has lost whatever momentum it had, and it will be unable to reach any agreement before its deadline tomorrow.
Joint Select Committee on Multiemployer Pension Solvency co-chairs Orrin Hatch and Sherrod Brown announced today that the committee is unable to reach an agreement, but that it will extend its deadline “to continue working toward a bipartisan solution.” Preliminary reports suggest that the deadline will be extended 90 days, which puts it after the swearing in of the new Congress.
While the committee has not issued an official report on the status of its work, conversations with IUOE legislative officials and those from other union and employer organizations indicate that many of the worst policy proposals have been scrapped. The sources providing this information are credible, and these developments are encouraging, but without concrete proof that the danger to our pension fund is gone, we will continue to watch their every move. Any new proposal would now have to go through a Democrat-controlled House, reducing the likelihood of a harmful plan being rushed through in the middle of the night.
This week, Local 150 members and your families sent more than 11,000 e-mails to your legislators and made thousands more phone calls. This played an important role in slowing things down and hopefully eliminating the outrageous ideas being considered to harm our pension fund. I asked you to help, and you stepped up in a big way. And if you haven’t yet reached out to your Senators or Representatives on this issue, I ask that you do it now.
Again, this is not over. The committee will continue to work, but it is no longer working in the shadows. It knows that workers are watching, and it appears that we’ve ruined some legislators’ plan to slip in a sneak attack before leaving town for the holidays. Our Senators and Representatives are more aware than ever of the work this committee is doing, and they now know what to look out for.
This will continue to be a top legislative priority, and we will keep you informed on every development. Expect to get active on this again, whether that means making phone calls, writing letters, or doing whatever it takes to protect our pensions. We will watch closely, and we will have a plan for whatever comes — a plan that will require our members to stand up and fight.
If this week has taught us anything, it is that no matter how hard we work to strengthen our pension fund and protect our retirement, the federal government will always show up to try to interfere. The fact that it has the ability to threaten our fund in this way is a disgrace, and we have to keep them out of our business.
I expect that more details will emerge in the coming days, and the union will keep you informed via email, newspaper, website, and social media. Thank you for the work that you’ve done so far, and be ready for the next round when it comes. We can do just about anything when we work together. United We Stand, Divided We Fall.
James M. Sweeney
President-Business Manager, IUOE Local 150