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Letter: We must act now to solve the pension plan crisis

I have lived my entire life in North Dakota. I served my country for well over 10 years as a member of the U.S. Army and Army Reserve and worked for UPS for more than 30 years. I have served honorably, worked hard my entire life, saved and planned for retirement.

Now, a looming pension crisis threatens my future.

We are not looking for a hand-out, and have crafted a real path forward called the Butch Lewis Act to save our earned retirement funds. Millions of hard-working Americans that have given their lives to serve this country and employers need a solution to the Multi-Employer Pension Plan (MEPP) crisis.

In fact around half of retirees involved in this crisis are also veterans of the Vietnam era. We know the value of honor and duty to both country and employer.

It must be fair and reasonable to workers, retirees, employers and taxpayers. This crisis potentially affects 6 million retirees and 4 million workers. Without legislative action on multi-employer pensions, hundreds of these plans will become insolvent and cause economic ruin, not only to retires like me, but employers that will go out of business and tens of thousands of jobs that will be lost in our communities.

Twelve members of Congress, including Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Tina Smith are part of a Joint Select Congressional Committee tasked with coming forward with solutions no later than November 30.

They both support The Butch Lewis Act as the fairest solution, as does Rep. Kevin Cramer since he also has signed onto this life-saving piece of legislation.

The collapse of these multi-employer pension plans would affect millions of Americans, cost the government billions and the overall economy into the trillions. Congress has refused to take real action on this for well over 20 years and it's festering now threatens the economy of our entire nation.

Their latest so called fix called the Multi-employer Pension Reform Act or MPRA literally made us the insurance that they (Congress) were supposedly protecting us with. It is now causing bankruptcy and suicides for those already affected at the end of their lives. Our country is better than this.

President Trump and Congress must hear our voices, and take action to protect our future now.

Kooren lives in Fargo.

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