Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins Announce Niagara Falls IBEW Local 237 Union To Receive $32.2 Million – Restoring Pensions For 430 Members And Their Families, Including Backpay For Benefits, Thanks To American Rescue Plan

Jun 29, 2023

IBEW Local 237, Along With Thousands Of Union Families Across America, Were Victims Of A Pension System That Collapsed After 2008 Crash; Without Action, After a Lifetime of Hard Work, Many Could Not Retire Or Would Have Little Benefits Remaining

As Schumer’s First Major Act As Majority Leader, Working With Gillibrand, And Higgins Providing Key Vote In The House, They Secured Fix So Union Members, Who Worked Their Whole Lives But Risked Losing Payments Through No Fault Of Their Own, Got Pensions; And Now 430 Union Members In Niagara And Orleans County Have Finally Got The Relief They Needed

Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins: Western NY Local 237 Union Families Can Breathe A Massive Sigh Of Relief With The Full Pensions They Rightfully Earned Again Providing Economic Security

After years of relentless advocacy, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Brian Higgins today announced that International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 237, based in Niagara Falls with 430 members and their families in Niagara and Orleans County, will receive $32.2 million pension-fix payout from the American Rescue Plan. The representatives said that this will ensure that Local 237 members and their families receive the hard earned benefits that they paid into their whole lives, but lost through no fault of their own. The representatives said the hard-earned pensions are full restored giving the IBEW workers the financial security they deserve.

“Western New York union members of IBEW Local 237 and their families could have lost the benefits they earned over a lifetime of work, through no fault of their own — putting their financial security, retirements, and family’s futures at risk. When I became majority leader, I promised I would not stop fighting until our union brothers and sisters and their families got the relief they needed. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, over 430 IBEW brother and sisters and their families in Western NY will be able to breathe a massive sigh of relief having the restored pensions and benefits they have earned,” said Senator Schumer. “Western New York has been, and always will be a union town and that is why I am proud to deliver this major over $32 million in relief for IBEW Local 237 in hard-earned benefits and back pay they deserve.”

“IBEW Local 237 workers have worked hard their whole lives and they deserve to receive the full pensions and benefits they have earned,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am proud to have fought to pass the American Rescue Plan to provide this $32.2 million for union workers and their families so they can retire with the financial security they deserve.”

Congressman Higgins said, “Members of IBEW Local 237 went to work each day with a simple objective to provide for their families and transition to retirement after years of hard work. Failed pension plans robbed these workers of the dignified retirement they earned and deserve. Today’s announcement, made possible through the Butch Lewis Act’s inclusion in the American Rescue Plan, returns the promise of stability and security for hundreds to workers and families in Niagara County and across Western New York.”

John Scherrer IBEW Local 237 Business Manager said, “ IBEW Local 237 would like to thank President Joe Biden, Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Congressman Brian Higgins for all their work and support for the Special Financial Assistance to our local pension made possible by the American Rescue Plan! Three years ago, Local 237 was faced with the terrible choice of allowing its pension to go insolvent in seven years or undergo draconian cuts to save it. The active and retired members overwhelmingly voted to take these cuts to save our pension.  Now thanks to this legislation we will be able to make our pension great again! God Bless America, the best country in the world, and God Bless the IBEW!”

The relief today also includes benefit restoration for beneficiaries whose payments have already been cut, meaning some members will be eligible for back pay from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

The representatives explained that after the 2008 financial crash, many union workers’ in multiemployer pension plans were in danger of collapse due to out-of-control speculation on Wall Street. Multiemployer plans are created through agreements between employers and a union, with plans typically involving multiple employers in a single industry or related industries. Countless families and workers faced the prospect of losing out on retirement savings – through no fault of their own. Senator Schumer fought to include the Butch Lewis Act in the American Rescue Plan – securing pension solvency in his very first major bill as majority leader, working alongside Senator Gillibrand, with Representatives Higgins helping usher the bill through the House. Before the American Rescue Plan over 200 multiemployer plans were on pace to become insolvent in the near term, risking benefits for millions of workers and their families.

The law created the Special Financial Assistance program administered by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to protect benefits for millions of workers, reverse harsh pension cuts, and put existing plans on a path to solvency through 2051. Today, thanks to this legislations unions across New York have received critical relief, including over 33,000 NY Teamsters from every corner of New York who have had over $960 million dollars in benefits restored, including Teamsters Local Union 264 and 449 in Buffalo.