WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced that he will be joined at the State of the Union for the second year in a row by Rita Lewis. Rita’s late husband, Butch Lewis, was a Vietnam veteran, truck driver and Ohio Teamster, who died in 2015 while leading the fight to preserve the numerous pension plans that are on the brink of failure and threatened by massive cuts. Rita herself has become an advocate for preserving the multi-employer pension system and has continued Butch’s work. Rita attended as Brown’s guest in 2018

Brown continues working to highlight the pension crisis that threatens more than 60,000 Ohioans and 1.3 million workers and retirees nationwide. Brown and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) reaffirmed their commitment to working together to find a solution. 

“This issue goes to our fundamental values as a country. For too many workers, hard work just doesn’t pay off. If we truly value a hard day’s work in this country, we have to fix that – and we can start by keeping our promise to Rita and to these thousands of hardworking Ohioans. Senator Portman and I have not given up and we will continue fighting to protect the pensions of millions of workers, retirees and businesses across the country.” 

Last year, Brown helped to create the House and Senate Joint Select Committee on Pensions to work to produce a bipartisan solution to the pension crisis. The committee disbanded at the end of December and Brown secured commitments from members of both the House and the Senate that they would continue working to reach a bipartisan solution. 

If nothing is done to the plans, they will fail and retirees will face massive cuts to the benefits they earned over decades of work. If the plans are allowed to fail, not only will they no longer be able to pay promised benefits, but taxpayers would also be at risk of having to pay billions because the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) would be on the hook for billions of dollars it cannot pay. PBGC is the arm of the federal government that insures pension plans.