61,000+ Michigan workers’ pensions protected under Biden’s American Rescue Plan

61,000+ Michigan workers’ pensions protected under Biden’s American Rescue Plan

By Kyle Kaminski

July 2, 2024

President Joe Biden’s administration announced that more than 1 million workers have had their pensions shielded from cuts through the American Rescue Plan—including more than 61,000 workers and retirees in the state of Michigan.

MICHIGAN—Federal legislation signed by President Joe Biden has effectively prevented cuts to pensions and retirement benefits for more than 1 million workers and retirees—including for more than 61,000 Michiganders, according to data released by the White House last month.

“Whether it is Social Security, Medicare, or pensions, workers who earn a dignified retirement through decades of hard work and sacrifice should never see their benefits cut due to broken promises or policies that favor the wealthy over working families,” Biden said in a statement.

Federal officials and US Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) announced the “major” first-term milestone of the Biden administration at a press conference last month, where they tallied up more than 1 million pensions that have been protected since the legislation was signed in 2021.

That includes the pensions of more than 61,000 Michiganders, in addition to thousands of other workers and retirees in Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Missouri, and Wisconsin. 

All told, the legislation has protected the retirement benefits of more than 500,000 Teamsters, over 100,000 food and commercial workers, and over 100,000 steelworkers and autoworkers.

“That’s what it means to build the economy from the middle out and the bottom up, and to protect the dignity of work,” Biden said in a statement announcing the recent milestone. 

Here’s the Deal:

The American Rescue Plan included a measure known as the “Butch Lewis Act,” named in honor of the Ohio union leader and pension advocate, that included billions of dollars in funding to help beef up roughly 200 underfunded multiemployer pension plans across the country.

According to federal officials, the federal funding included in the American Rescue Plan will ultimately ensure that roughly 2 million American workers’ and retirees’ pension plans are able to pay out their full benefits and remain solvent—at least over the next several decades.

What’s New?

The latest round of federal funding is set to help protect the pensions and retirement benefits for more than 103,000 members of the Bakery and Confectionery Union and Industry International Pension Fund—which covers manufacturing, production, maintenance, and sanitation workers in the baking and confectionary industries. Federal officials have billed those retirement funds as some of the largest and most financially distressed multiemployer pension plans in the US.

Without the help from the American Rescue Plan, those workers and retirees—who have already earned their benefits—would’ve faced 45% benefit reductions by the end of the decade, according to federal officials. Instead, their full benefits will now be paid through at least 2051.

It marks the second-largest award to date through the Butch Lewis Act, and officially brings the total number of pensions protected by the American Rescue Plan to over 1 million nationwide. 

So What?

Federal data shows that the Biden administration has now delivered assistance to 83 pension plans, preventing an average benefit cut of 37% for more than 1 million retirees and workers—more than half of whom had already had their pensions and retirement benefits cut.

The American Rescue Plan also restored those reduced benefit levels for more than 120,000 retirees, who have since been able to recover thousands of dollars in lost benefits, officials said.

The Biden administration has touted the recent federal financial assistance as the “most significant” effort to protect the solvency of the multiemployer pension system in nearly 50 years

READ MORE: 3 years later: What is Biden’s American Rescue Plan doing for Michigan?

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Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.


  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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