**Download Help is Here Ohio Graphics HERE**
CLEVELAND, OH – Every day this week, the office of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is highlighting key victories for Ohio in the American Rescue Plan, critical legislation that will help Ohio recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, as part of the Help is Here Ohio series, Brown’s office is drawing attention to the multiemployer pension fix included in the plan. After a years-long fight alongside Ohio retirees, workers and businesses, Brown secured a fix for failing multiemployer pension plans in the American Rescue Plan. The failure of these plans would have had drastic consequences for the country’s economy, especially amid the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Brown secured a version of his Butch Lewis Act in the COVID-19 rescue package, legislation named in honor of Butch Lewis, the former retired head of Teamsters Local 100 in southwest Ohio.
“Hundreds of thousands of Ohio retirees and workers can breathe easier knowing that the pensions they were promised will be there for them and their families. After years of fighting alongside Ohio retirees, workers and small businesses, we finally have a solution that will not only protect these pensions but will stimulate our local economies and prevent a major bailout that would have cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars if we did nothing,” said Brown. “Instead, we’re honoring our commitment to the thousands of Ohioans who gave up wages at the bargaining table in exchange for the promise of a pension and the dignity of a secure retirement.”
On Friday, Brown hosted a virtual celebration with Ohio workers and retirees to discuss the importance of securing this fix in the American Rescue Plan, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to make the ongoing pension crisis even worse.
· Read Cleveland.com’s coverage of Brown’s event HERE.
“It’s important to remember that we’re just ordinary people, we don’t make millions of dollars, so every bit of this money counts. This is huge to the economy: now we can go buy a car, we can do repairs to our house. We’re not going to do extravagant things, but at least we can live and support our families and our local economies, as well,” said Dana Vargo, activist and wife of a retired Teamster.
“I’m raising a family and to know that I have this security and that in the future, this is something I can rely on, it’s an amazing thing,” said Kate Hughes, an active worker at Bimbo Bakeries in Zanesville.
Brown’s Butch Lewis Act would:
· Keep multiemployer pension plans solvent and well-funded for thirty years—with no cuts to the earned benefits of participants and beneficiaries;
· Restore full benefits for retirees in plans that previously had to take cuts and increase the maximum Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) insurance amount; and
· Require each plan that receives assistance to file regular status reports with the PBGC and Congressional Committees, in order to prevent recurrence and to protect retirees’ benefits.
More on the Pension Crisis:
The pension crisis threatened the retirement of more than 1-1.5 million workers and retirees nationwide and put small businesses across the country in jeopardy. These truck drivers, carpenters, bakers and others worked hard all their lives and gave up raises at the bargaining table in order to put that money toward retirement for themselves and their families.
Numerous pension plans, including the Central States Pension Plan, the Bakers and Confectioners Pension Plan, and more were at risk of failure. If nothing was done to help the plans, they would have failed and retirees would have faced massive cuts to the benefits they earned over decades of work, through no fault of their own.
If the plans were allowed to fail, not only would they no longer be able to pay promised benefits, but taxpayers and small businesses would be at risk of having to pay billions because the PBGC would be on the hook for billions of dollars it cannot pay.
There are several causes for this crisis, including the fact that the economic collapse of 2008 devastated these plans and the people who depend on them.