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Washington Alerts

Senators Sanders, Cassidy Urge Dept. of Labor to Prioritize WORK Act Implementation

The ESOP Association
Washingtone Alert

U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, have sent a bipartisan letter to Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su urging the Department of Labor to prioritize the WORK Act in its implementation of SECURE 2.0.

In their letter, the Senators said:

“Last year, Congress passed the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022, a bipartisan package of reforms to enhance and increase families’ retirement and emergency savings. The SECURE 2.0 Act contains nearly 100 provisions, including those aimed at helping workers expand employee ownership, better understand their retirement plans, save for a rainy day, ensure their pension benefits are protected in a risk transfer, and more. Many of these provisions also require the Department of Labor (DOL) to engage in rulemaking and issue further guidance and reports under prescribed deadlines.

“We hope DOL will effectively and expeditiously implement the SECURE 2.0 Act—just as DOL has done and continues to do with a slew of bipartisan retirement reforms passed in 2019. While full implementation of the SECURE 2.0 Act is the ultimate goal, we urge DOL to prioritize administration of the following provisions:

“• Section 346, Worker Ownership, Readiness, and Knowledge (WORK) Act. Section 346 establishes an Employee Ownership Initiative within DOL to promote employee ownership, and authorizes a $50 million grant program to help establish and expand employee ownership centers across the country. It also requires DOL to issue formal guidance on employee stock ownership plan valuation standards.”

Upon the letter’s release, ESOP Association President and CEO said: “Employee Ownership is a priority for Congress because it is proven to grow individual financial security, job security, and improve job satisfaction.  The Department of Labor needs to recognize, quickly, that five decades has been far too long to properly define the way an ESOP should value a company’s stock. 

“DOL’s inability to provide clear regulatory guidance has hurt American workers.  Millions of Americans would be better off today if the DOL had done its job decades ago because more business owners would have sold their interests to their employees through an ESOP.

“Senators Sanders and Cassidy have their priorities correct, and we are grateful.  I hope the DOL follows those priorities and does so in a responsible manner with proper stakeholder input.”

Click here to view the letter in its entirety >>