By Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
More than a million workers and retirees across the country are part of the multi-employer pension system. In recent years, this system has been severely underfunded, threatening the pensions of truck drivers, carpenters, bakers, and others who 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.
This crisis hurt thousands of Ohioans – it hurt the massive Central States Pension Plan, the Ironworkers Local 17 Pension Plan, the Ohio Southwest Carpenters Pension Plan, the Bakers and Confectioners Pension Plan, and others. Workers and retirees knew the situation was getting worse, but there was no movement. There were no champions in Washington.
When Wall Street gambled and lost, they got a bailout. And when big corporations came to Washington looking for tax cuts, they got a handout. But when working people’s pensions needed saving, that’s where my Republican colleagues drew the line.
That’s why, when the country elected Joe Biden and a Democratic Senate, I immediately called President Biden and said we have to do something to secure the pensions of working Americans. Less than three months later, after years and years of effort, we got it done. Without a single Republican vote, we saved these pensions with no cuts. Under the American Rescue Plan, we passed the Butch Lewis Act, named in honor of the former retired head of Teamsters Local 100 in southwest Ohio. The passage of the Butch Lewis Act finally keeps the promise made to working Americans, keeping multiemployer pension plans solvent and well-funded for thirty years with no cuts to the earned benefits of participants and beneficiaries.
Hundreds of thousands of Ohio retirees and workers can now 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.
This is a victory for every American working hard to provide for their family and who feels ignored, let down, or unseen by their government. In the United States of America, we keep our promises to working people. The dignity of work doesn’t end with retirement. We must continue to ensure workers have the guarantee of knowing their pensions will be safe into the future.
Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is a U.S. Senator for Ohio. He can be reached at 1-800-896-6446. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints nor the independent activities of the author.