Senate, House Leadership Call for Passage of Brown’s Bill to Ensure Retired Workers Keep Pensions They’ve Earned

Two Ohio Retirees, a Teamster and a Miner, Stood with Brown Today in Support of Bill

**Watch Today’s Press Conference HERE**

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called for passage of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s legislation to ensure that Ohio retirees can keep the pensions they’ve earned. The support of Senate and House leadership will help make it clear that passing this fix is a priority to Democrats, boosting the chances it will get included in a spending package.

“These retirees sacrificed pay raises and benefits so that when they retired, they could do so with dignity,” said Brown. “They earned every dollar of their retirement, and out of no fault of their own, the money they earned is at risk. They held up their end of the bargain and it’s time Congress held up ours and ensure they can keep what they’ve earned.” 

Brown was joined by two Ohio retirees today, retired miner and United Mine Workers of America member Norm Skinner and Teamster retiree Mike Walden. Both called for passage of the bill. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa also joined Brown and Senate and House leaders today to reiterate the union’s support for the bill.

“This is the only legislative solution that would keep intact the pensions that our actives and retirees have earned – there would be no cuts,” said Hoffa. “That is why our active and retired members have been meeting with members of Congress over the past year to fight for their retirement security and they will continue to do so until this legislation becomes law.”

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “As miners, truck drivers, construction workers, and food service workers approach retirement age, we have to make sure the pension plans promised to them have enough in the bank to fulfill that promise. One of the main things we Democrats have been pushing for - and will continue to push for - in the bipartisan budget negotiations is to help these workers out. Democrats are fighting for a pension solution.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “Defending every American’s right to a secure retirement is an urgent moral priority,” said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.  “The Congress must deliver on our promises and protect working families’ economic security now.  There is no time to waste, and Democrats will not rest until we have saved America’s endangered pensions.”

Numerous Ohio pension plans, including the massive Central States Teamsters Pension Plan, the United Mine Workers Pension Plan, the Ironworkers Local 17 Pension Plan, the Ohio Southwest Carpenters Pension Plan and the Bakers and Confectioners Pension Plan are currently on the brink of failure and threatened by massive cuts.

Last month, Brown introduced the Butch Lewis Act to put the pension plans back on solid footing and ensure they can meet their obligations to current retirees and workers for decades to come, without cuts. A version of the bill was also introduced in the House of Representatives. Brown named the bill after Butch Lewis, the former retired head of Teamsters Local 100 in Evendale, Ohio, where he led the fight to preserve his fellow Teamsters’ pensions. He passed away in 2015, and now his wife, Rita, continues his fight, lobbying for Teamsters’ retirement security.

Brown’s Butch Lewis Act would:

  1. Put failing pension plans back on solid ground to ensure they can meet their commitments to retirees today and workers for decades to come.
  2. Do so without cutting a single cent from the benefits retirees have earned.
  3. Put safeguards in place to encourage pensions to remain strong so they can be there for today’s workers when they retire.

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 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.  

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