Sen. Manchin introduces the Prioritizing Our Workers Act

For Immediate Release:       

May 15, 2019




Washington, D.C. – U.S Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Prioritizing Our Workers Act, legislation that would make changes to the current bankruptcy code, requiring companies going through bankruptcy proceedings to pay unpaid vested benefits, like workers’ pensions before they payout other claims against them. Currently, companies undergoing bankruptcy have to pay attorney’s fees and other high-priority claims first but the same standards do not apply to workers’ pensions funds.


“I firmly believe that no one shouldbe denied their pension because their employer goes bankrupt. Hardworking men and women across this country go to work every day for years, paying into these pension plans each paycheck with the expectation, that one day they can retire and provide for their families. Companies offering pension plans made promises to their workers and need to live up to those promises, no matter what else happens to that company financially. In West Virginia, we are far too familiar with coal and steel companies leaving their workers out to dry in this way,” said Senator Manchin. “I am proud to introduce this legislation so that changes can be made to the bankruptcy code to make sure that companies are held accountable for their promises and workers’ pensions are protected.”


Today, Senator Manchin spoke on the Senate Floor discussing how important solving the pension crisis is, especially to our retired coal miners. Senator Manchin has been fighting for a solution to the pension crisis for years through the Miners Protection Act and the recent American Miners Act. The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) pension plans are currently on the brink of failure. If nothing is done to the plans, they will fail and retirees will face massive cuts to the benefits they earned over decades of work.


If the UMWA pension plan is allowed to fail, not only will they no longer be able to pay promised benefits, but taxpayers would be at risk of having to pay billions because the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) could not cover its liabilities. PBGC is the arm of the federal government that insures pension plans.


To view the full bill text click here.