ERISA Anniversary Recalls the Importance of a Secure and Dignified Retirement

On this day in 1974, President Gerald Ford signed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) into law. At the time he noted that under ERISA “the men and women of our labor force will have much more clearly defined rights to pension funds and greater assurances that that retirement dollars will be there when they are needed." What President Ford said over forty years ago remains true today. ERISA has been and remains a landmark law safeguarding private sector workers’ benefits. 

ERISA set a number of standards for pension and health benefit plans in private industry, ensuring workers receive the protections they deserve. The Department of Labor (DOL) recently completed a multi-year effort to modernize and strengthen ERISA for those saving and planning for retirement. For far too long, unscrupulous financial advisors could steer their retirement clients toward financial products that may enrich the advisor but may not be in their clients’ best interest. This practice of providing what’s referred to as “conflicted advice” costs retirement savers as much as $17 billion annually, according to the White House Council on Economic Advisers. Committee Democrats strongly support this DOL action, commonly referred to as the “fiduciary rule.” It will help protect our constituents’ hard-earned retirement savings and ensure financial advisors act in the best interest of their clients.

President Ford fittingly signed ERISA on Labor Day, a day when we honor the American labor movement that has built and sustained our country’s middle class. On this Labor Day weekend, Committee Democrats continue their efforts on behalf of America’s workers and their families. Together we are fighting to strengthen workers’ wages and their ability to organize and collectively bargain, ensure they can balance work and family life, provide a better future for their kids, and achieve a secure and dignified retirement.