Pension Action Turns Back Composite Bill

Fast action by pension committees and our allies has beat-back a pension cut bill in Congress.


John Kline (R-MN) didn’t retire from Congress with the present he longed for – passage of his Composite Bill - that would have further gutted hard earned pension protections. This time, unlike with his MEPRA Bill of 2014, he wasn’t able to sneak it through the lame duck session because Teamster pension activists and allies were on to his devious ways and countered them with concerted organizing.

“We stopped another ambush of our retirement security, said Greg Smith, a retiree from Akron, Ohio. “Mike Walden and a delegation from our National United Committees to Protect Pensions visited over 26 representatives over the course of three days. They did a lot of hard work to make sure the Composite wouldn’t see the light of day. And Dana Vargo, from our Canton, Ohio committee, and so many others, made sure that thousands of calls and emails reached Congress. It’s the grassroots effort we’ve organized that’s making a big difference.”

In Kline’s home district, Teamsters and allies held a meeting of over 400 on December 3 at Macalester College where a range of speakers, including Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, denounced Kline’s bill. They followed up the meeting with a picket and rally at Kline’s office on December 10.

“We see the fight to save our pensions as a fight to defend the retirement security promised to all working people, said Bob McNattin, a retired Minnesota Local 120 Teamster. “We may well face a range of attacks going forward – including Social Security and other promised benefits - but our grassroots organizing over the past few years puts us in a far better position to wage those battles. We need to keep growing our movement.”

The campaign continues to seek allies in other unions, the IBT and locals, the Pension Rights Center and AARP. The Mineworkers have been a key part of this effort. Sadly, Democrats in the Senate were only able to get a four month extension on benefits for retired Mineworkers as the 2016 legislative session ended. 

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  • Jay Walton
    commented 2016-12-14 09:11:37 -0500
    This is a letter from Sen Rob Portman on a response on the composite legislation that Kline tried to push through. Dear Herbert,

    Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to Rep. John Kline’s [R-MN] draft legislation in the House of Representatives to establish “composite plans,” or new multiemployer pension plans that are neither traditional defined benefit plans nor defined contribution plans. I appreciate you bringing this issue to my attention.

    Like you, I believe that this draft legislation (also called the “Multiemployer Pension Modernization Act”) is too complex and consequential to rush through the legislative process. In addressing the multiemployer pension system, Congress should hold hearings, allow amendments, and work with all stakeholders. So far, the Senate has held no hearings on this legislation; and I am pleased that it was not included in the continuing resolution the Senate passed on December 9th.

    I am hopeful that Congress will not repeat its mistake at the end of 2014, when the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA) was added onto the must-pass omnibus spending bill only four days before the vote, having received no Senate hearings and no opportunities for Senators to offer amendments. As you may know, I voted against this poorly-designed legislation, and will continue to oppose it.

    We must develop a solution to save the severely-underfunded multiemployer pension system and the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation. I will continue to work with Central States Pension Fund retirees in Ohio, employers and unions in the multiemployer pension system, and other stakeholders on both sides of the aisle to determine the best approach going forward. We must address this serious issue with transparency, open-mindedness, and careful deliberation.

    Thank you again for taking the time to write. I value your opinion and will keep it in mind in considering this issue. For more information on my work on pensions in the Senate, you may visit my website at


    Rob Portman
    U.S. Senator
  • Dale Dobbs
    commented 2016-12-12 14:53:47 -0500
    Committees to Protect Pensions – CPP (@cppensions)
  • Kathy Pate
    commented 2016-12-12 14:04:23 -0500
    We work hard for years for our pension, it belongs to each of us that has paid into it !!!!
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