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Biden expected to sign LTL driver pension relief package

Senate approves $86 billion multiemployer fund bailout as part of COVID-19 rescue plan

Yellow Corp. drivers and retirees on verge of pension relief. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Legislation bailing out financially troubled multiemployer pension plans – including a plan covering thousands of employees and retirees from LTL carriers Yellow and ABF Freight – could be signed into law by President Joe Biden as early as this week.

The Butch Lewis Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 was included in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue package that was approved on Saturday by the U.S. Senate along party lines, 50-49. The package is expected to be taken up by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday for final approval before being sent to the White House for Biden’s signature.

Sources contacted by FreightWaves noted that the pension relief portion of the package made it through the Senate relatively unscathed, so it will likely remain intact when it reaches the White House.

“For more than two decades, Teamster members, retirees and officials have worked tirelessly to make sure the hard-earned retirements of its members are protected,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “Now, as part of this bill, more than 50 Teamster pension plans – including its largest, the Central States Pension Fund [CSPF] – will be eligible for assistance at the outset of the bill’s enactment, with more of the union’s plans becoming eligible in 2022.”

Teamsters Vice President John Murphy, who has led the union’s battle to protect member and retiree pensions, called the Senate’s passage of the legislation “one giant step toward bringing this whole issue to conclusion that will lift such a terrible burden off the minds of thousands of retirees and active workers. 

“It’s been a long fight, but Congress has done the right thing by the working people with the passage of this bill,” Murphy told FreightWaves.

The pension relief portion of the rescue package affects multiemployer pension funds covering 1.3 million plan participants. Roughly 360,000 of those participants are covered under CSPF, of which approximately 30,000 are current employees of LTL carriers ABF Freight [NASDAQ:ARCB] and Yellow Corp. [NASDAQ: YELL].

Under the legislation, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), an independent federal agency that provides financial assistance to pension plans that become insolvent, would provide eligible multiemployer plans with grants that would not need to be repaid, rather than money from the existing multiemployer revolving fund. The money would be transferred from the Treasury’s general fund to a new fund within PBGC. It would then be disbursed to the pension plans.

During the first two years after the bill is enacted into law, the PBGC could give priority to plans that are expected to face insolvency within five years – which is the case with CSPF.

A recent analysis of the legislation conducted by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that grants would total $86 billion. Of that, $82 billion would be spent in 2022, $2 billion in 2023, and $0.6 billion in 2024. About 185 plans would receive grants, according to the budget office.

Labor made pension protection a major policy goal of the Democratic party “because of the disastrous effect the pandemic’s shutdown of the economy had on multiemployer pension plans,” Murphy said.

“Democrats realized something had to be done now,” he said. “Republicans have never been willing to address the multiemployer pension crisis as a serious issue. They’ve been an obstacle rather than a facilitator. So, the Democrats have fulfilled one of their many promises to American workers and retirees.”

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    Thank God for legislators who have a conscience.
    Most Republicans are ready to destroy Unions that negotiate good living wages, hours, benefits and retirement plans. Yet those self-righteous people keep increasing their wages and life long benefits. SHAME ON THEM.
    The government is responsible for for the ANTI UNION mentality that brought this pension crisis we have today, starting with Nixon in 1974, Regan in 1981and thereafter, Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter (Dem’s) with the Motor Carrier Act, signed on Labor Day 1980, both Bush(s), Mitt Romney who said “if I’M elected, MY first(1st) EO on MY inauguration day WILL be to outlaw ALL Union in the USA”. PEOPLE LIKE THAT, WITH
    What legislatiors who oppose Unions don’t understand is that workers who make good money SPEND GOOD MONEY, AND GENERATE MORE TAX MONEY TO STATE and FEDERAL GOVERMENT TREASURIES.
    Wake up you antagonist.

  2. Willard Piepenbrok

    I have over 20 years with the teamsters as a driver for USF Holland, rodeway Express, YRC and as a teamster member concrete company in Michigan I left YRC and the union because of the pension breakup 7 years ago thinking that I would never get to retire with a pension. Now with all of this going on will I be able to retire with a pension from my Central States??

  3. Jim Massonet

    Who allowed the LTL trucking industry to be deregulated? My grandchildren didn’t so why should they have to pay their retirement , they just sat back and watched it happed. Pretty simple, fewer members paying in equals fewer dollars to be paid out. DUH!!

  4. Tracey

    God Bless the Democrats who stood by working Americans.
    My husband died last February, a Teamster retiree and a member of Central States Pension Fund. His biggest fear for me, his widow was for my financial security as we have been aware of the state of the pension fund problems for years. I only wish he could have known before he died. Hopefully, I will be able to continue to live modestly, but not destitute! A special thanks to Senator Sherrod Brown.

    Yes, the millionaires and billionaires still have their big tax break!

  5. Teamster in Retirement

    So many out there are so glad that the ‘Worker Class’ of theirs ‘Pensions’ are in ‘Insolvent’… The truth told; the GOP has been destroying American worker’s Unions for decades, that’s how what we have today, but your own congressmen/women can collect a life long pension with a little of one term in office.

    Sorry, I’m one of those ‘Pensioners’ facing insolvency after paying in over 40 years, and I fulfilled my contract and expect to receive what I signed up for.

    ‘Unions are People’…

      1. AJ

        And what is it you payed into??? Kinda curious.

        Your Union Dues….If I remember correctly should be like twice your hourly wage.. Monthly.
        That has nothing to do with Pension Plans!!!!!!!

        1. JH

          AJ , as part of our negotiated wage & benefits pkg those funds where paid into the pension plan on our behalf by there employers and upon retirement after 30 – 40 years in the industry that money is ours that was hard earned , to help enjoy our retirement !!

        2. Your mom!

          You don’t remember correctly. Contribution hourly were made into your pension. Along with medical coverage Now Less union companies Less union workers contributing to pension plans. More teamsters living longer. Guess what? You have a problem, but ask a fnn Republican who is so PRO USA AND SOEWS THAT BS MAKE AMERICA GREAT. YOU GET SOME LAME ASS ANSWER!!! INSTEAD OF SAYING HEY BRING BACK UNIONS SO AMERICANS CAN LIVE AND RETIRE BETTER.

  6. MWD

    And why are these pension funds at or near insolvency? Has their management…..or mismanagement been investigated? Another BS bailout from We The People!

    1. Eileen Packen

      Partly yes but mostly due to the deregulation of the trucking industry really hurt the teamsters and the market crash .They have been in trouble for over ten years . They can bailout the banks, the auto industry but not help all these people whom worked all their life and paid into their pensions ? I don’t agree with its B.S as you call it my deceased husband was A Teamster for over 30;+ years. It’s to late for me to be included in that bailout his already became insolvent but I am happy that over Four Hundred Thousand will get help finally .God Bless America

    2. Your mom !!!

      Let’s see 10 teamster companies 20 years ago. Through corporate greed and paying off top members must union companies were able to fold yet start up again non unions. Meaning less pension protection to retirees. Get where the f I’m coming from. I hope your smart enough to know!!!!!’

    3. bruce

      Did you read the memo about many companies being near underwater before the national shutdown? You see, when companies shut down, they produced no freight. If there is no freight then insolvency is what comes next.

  7. G moreno

    Wait so what does this mean for me as a mew worker in yellow I’m almost 5 year in the company, will I start getting pension too? Is this about the golden 80? Shoot if it is, all you guys better start applying for the 1500 drivers they about to get across the US.

  8. Mark Meadows

    The dems just bought back some union votes by baling out the poorly run and corrupt union pension plans at the American people’s expense.

    1. bruce

      I don’t think you read the memo about there being a pandemic last year and THAT had disastrious effects on the entire industry.

Comments are closed.

John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.