Evans: House Will Pass Protection for Acme Workers

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CONGRESSMAN Dwight Evans

Congressman Dwight Evans (D-Phila.) said the House of Representatives is poised to pass a bill today that would protect the pensions of 1.3 million workers and retirees, including thousands of current and retired Acme workers in the Philadelphia region.

As a member of the influential House Ways & Means Committee, Evans co-sponsored and helped to advance the Butch Lewis Act (HR 397).

“Several thousand current and retired Acme employees in the Philadelphia region are worried that their pension plans may dry up in eight years, if not sooner,” Evans said. “I have co-sponsored and voted to advance the Butch Lewis Act because it would protect them and 1.3 million Americans nationwide whose pensions are at risk through no fault of their own. These pension plans have been hit hard by the stock market crash of 2008 and other factors beyond the workers’ control. These truck drivers, coal miners, ironworkers, bakers, and many others worked hard and paid into their pension plans, and now they deserve the retirement security and peace of mind they expected.

“In addition to the human tragedy of allowing another 1.3 million workers and retirees to fall into poverty, everyone would be affected by the resulting damage to the economy. Congress and President Trump must not allow that to happen. One of my main priorities as a member of Congress is to lift more people out of poverty in Philadelphia and nationwide, so I see this bill as a vital preventive tool.”

The bill Evans is co-sponsoring would save these retirees’ and workers’ benefits through a private-public partnership. It would allow private investors to buy highly attractive, long-term Treasury bonds backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.

A new office within the U.S. Treasury Department, called the Pension Rehabilitation Administration, would administer loans to troubled pension plans using the money from the sale of the long-term bonds. These loans would allow multiemployer pension plans to remain solvent, grow their assets, and pay promised benefits.

The loan proceeds would have to be invested in low-risk investments, like an annuity or a fixed income investment. Additional assistance would be available to those plans that need it.

“I want to emphasize that this would not be a bailout. These plans would be required by law to pay back the loans — the federal government would simply backstop the risk, and workers wouldn’t have to go without their pensions while pension administrators struggle to shore up their long-term financial security. Congress did bail out Wall Street in 2008, only because it had to keep Wall Street’s mess from becoming a full-blown Great Depression. I was elected to Congress in 2016, and I believe we must look out for workers first,” Evans said.

“Workers built America. They deserve a deal at least as good as Wall Street’s 2008 deal. We must protect workers’ pensions and their financial security, and H.R. 397 would do exactly that. Now it will be up to the Senate to hold a vote on protecting these workers and retirees.”

Evans represents the 3rd Congressional District, which includes Northwest and West Philadelphia and parts of North, South, Southwest and Center City Philadelphia.

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