As many of you know, ProtectSeniors.Org and the Association of BellTel Retirees have been working to pass legislation that protects your earned benefits. As the economy has struggled, we heard of more and more companies who have claimed that they no longer are in a position to provide these benefits to retirees. As we all know, this is nothing more than an excuse and way to boost corporate profits and dole out large management and CEO bonuses.
We have also heard from some of you asking what happened to legislation we were advocating in the past? I want you all to know that ProtectSeniors.Org and the Association of BellTel Retirees have not been standing still on this issue. We have not forgotten about you or your earned benefits. What we have been doing is listening to retirees and trying to incorporate their concerns into a more comprehensive bill that can pass Congress and be signed into law by the President. One of the comments we routinely were asked is why didn’t our old legislative language protect the benefits lost through bankruptcy. We have heard from some who were concerned that we were letting some off the hook by not requiring them to provide these benefits, in a sense watering down our efforts. Over this year we have been strategizing with many legislators about how we can best take all these issues and craft them into legislation that would not be so polarizing. As you know, the keys to passage of any legislation today does require us to look at the politics of an issue and how it will play across party lines. We have done all of that now and we believe that we have come up with a solution that addresses all of those concerns.
ProtectSeniors.Org is pleased to introduce our new bill to protect retiree benefits – S. 2418, The Bankruptcy Fairness and Employee Benefits Protection Act of 2014, introduced by Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) and Senator Warren (D-MA). This bill addresses our primary concern by seeking to make it more difficult for companies to reduce or eliminate the pay and benefits that their employees and retirees were promised, and earned, over their careers.
This critical piece of legislation has the potential to impact 14.3 million retired Americans, should corporations continue the practice of terminating or reducing benefits under the federal bankruptcy code. Senators Warren and Rockefeller, through our countless meetings over the last several months, recognize the hard work put in by retirees during their many years of service to corporations throughout the country and that they earned those promised benefits. Corporations must be forced to make good on those commitments to workers. Anything less would be a breach of a commitment by the corporation. Retirees and workers are only asking for what they earned and were promised over decades of work.
S. 2418 takes our goals a step further by pushing for the cessation of companies shifting their bankruptcy costs onto the backs of employees and retirees. This bill launches significant protections for retired Americans and employees, and ensures the critical healthcare and pension benefits they earned will be there upon retirement. ProtectSeniors.Org thanks the Senators for their tireless support, and we look forward to securing the passage of this exciting legislation.
Our efforts have now moved to the U.S. House of Representatives where we are looking to have a companion bill introduced in early September when Congress reconvenes after their six-week summer recess. We have identified several key members in the House who we believe will be champions of this effort. Once we have a House bill introduced we can begin, for the first time, to have identical legislation moving through both the House and Senate.