U.S. Senate Candidate Al Gross announces plan to fix current pension system

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska. (KTVF) Dr. Al Gross is running against Senator Dan Sullivan for his U.S. Senate seat. He said he is running because he does not like the direction the country or state are going. “I don’t think we’re getting good leadership from the incumbent -- and I stepped up to lead because I am a lifetime Alaskan, I’ve got deep roots in the state, because I knew I could win and I knew I could turn things around for the state,” said Gross.

U.S. Candidate Dr. Al Gross held a press conference on Thursday at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 1959 in Fairbanks. (Sara Tewksbury/KTVF)

On Thursday, Gross held a press conference at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 1959 to announce a piece of campaign policy to fix the current pension system. He said it was one of his first focuses because “one in four workers in Alaska are organized labor and a number of the organized labor outfits have pension plans that are at risk. The teamsters, the painters, the IBEW, and these people paid into these pensions throughout their careers expecting to get a pension at the end of the day. Right now some of these pensions are seriously at risk for insolvency,” said Gross.

Gross announced his plan that he says would strengthen the security of pension plans and secure them into the future. "The plan starts with the Butch Louis plan, offering low interest government loans. It expands the authority to PBGC. It stress tests the existing plans, and it charges higher rates on plans that have riskier investments," said Gross.

The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 1959 endorsed Gross because he is making pension reform a main platform of his campaign.

“In the great recession in 2008, pension plans lost a huge percentage of their value and have been struggling to recover ever since. What that means is it has burdened the participants in those plans, requiring them to continue to put more and more money into them as well as the small business owners, which are financially tied to the health of the plans. This is something that really affects both industry and labor, and so it’s important that the federal government steps in and helps out,” said Bronson Frye, business representative of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 1959.

Gross is running as an Independent, endorsed by the Democratic Party.

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