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Reassuring frustrated blue-collar voters, U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday visited Ohio iron workers to highlight federal action to shore up troubled pension funding for millions now on the job or retired — and to make his political case that he’s been a champion for workers in the White House.

Biden’s speech at a Cleveland high school showcased a final rule tied to his US$1.9 trillion coronavirus pandemic relief package from last year. The rule allows troubled multi-employer pension plans to be made financially whole, ensuring full benefits for two million to three million workers and retirees.

Read: Access to collective investment trusts will strengthen 403(b) retirement plans: report

Hurt politically by inflation at a 40-year high and damage wrought by the pandemic, the president chose to deliver his message in a state that has been trending strongly Republican, with Donald Trump easily carrying it twice.

In his sixth visit as president, Biden looked to personally reverse the electoral tide, touting the rule to help multi-employer pensions as one of the most significant efforts to support union workers’ retirement funds in the past 50 years.

The roughly 200 pension plans receiving assistance faced possible insolvency without government aid. And without the full benefits, workers and retirees could struggle to pay for housing, food and other essentials. The financial support should help keep the pension funds solvent for roughly 30 years until 2051.

Read: Survey finds half of young U.S. employees withdrawing early from retirement savings

Retiree Bill DeVito, who introduced Biden, said “it was devastating” when his pension was cut 40 per cent in 2017 after his lifetime spent as an iron worker. Jeffrey Carlson, another retiree, said a year before he retired in 2017, he learned his pension would be cut, too. “I’m grateful for anything we could get back. I know I earned it. I worked hard.”

Multi-employer plans are created through agreements between companies and a union and are insured by the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. In 2014, Congress passed the Multi-employer Pension Reform Act that allowed plans, for the first time, to cut workers and retirees’ benefits in order to ensure pensions projected to run out of money remained solvent.

The American Rescue Plan passed in March 2021 included a special finance assistance program that allows struggling multi-employer plans to apply to the PBGC for help. The final rule being unveiled by the Biden administration is designed to make it easier for the pensions’ investments to receive a higher rate of return.

Read: Survey finds 56% of U.S. employees expecting less than $500K in retirement savings