More than a million workers and retirees across the country are part of the multi-employer pension system, and many are in danger of losing that secure retirement. For years, I’ve pushed leaders of both parties to fix this and save America’s pensions, and today we are closer than ever to a solution.
If the system collapses, it won’t just be retirees who will feel the pain. Current workers will be stuck paying into pensions they’ll never receive. Small businesses will be left drowning in pension liability they can’t afford to pay, and workers will lose jobs as businesses are forced to close up shop.
This crisis affects thousands of Ohioans – it affects 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.
That’s why I’m reintroducing the Butch Lewis Act, named in honor of Ohioan Butch Lewis who worked his whole life as a Teamster.
Like many Ohioans, he gave up dollars at the bargaining table in exchange for contributions to his pension fund in hopes of a secure retirement. Our bill would finally keep the promise made to these Ohioans, keeping multiemployer pension plans solvent and well-funded for thirty years — with no cuts to the retirement workers earned.
We need to get this done in the COVID rescue plan, because we know if the multiemployer system collapses, the effect will ripple across the entire economy, at a time we can least afford it.
For years, Republican leaders in Congress have ignored these workers. When Wall Street gambled and lost America’s pensions, they got a bailout. But these workers aren’t looking for a bailout – they’re just looking for what they earned.
I’ve worked with Senator Portman and others for years to try to find a bipartisan solution, but Republican Senate leaders have stood in the way.
Each year Congress puts off addressing this issue, the problem gets more expensive to solve. With President Biden, we finally have a real opportunity to get this done, and I will keep working until we do.
When work has dignity, we honor the retirement Americans earned over a lifetime of hard work.
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) represents the state in the U.S. Senate.