YOUNGSTOWN — U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown has touted a provision of the American Rescue Plan Act he sponsored to secure pension relief for more than 100,000 Ohioans.
Brown, D-Cleveland, spoke on Monday about the Butch Lewis Act, which was included in the ARP, and guarantees retirement benefits for workers and retirees in endangered pension plans for 30 years with no reduction in benefits.
“We’re here to celebrate one of the greatest victories for workers in Ohio in a generation that is saving the pensions of literally 100,000 Ohioans,” Brown said at Schwebel’s Bakery in Youngstown.
He added: “During at least two presidents and several congresses, people have come to me and said, ‘We can solve this problem, but it will mean a 30 or 40% reduction in the pensions of members,” and we just said, ‘no.’ These workers deserved it, and they did nothing wrong. We must save these pensions.
Passage of the bill last year means Schwebel employees “will be able to work with the security that their pensions will be there for them when they retire,” said James Behmer, vice president of sales for the company. ‘business. “I can’t stress enough how important this is to businesses and union members across the country and right here in the Mahoning Valley.”
The multi-employer pension program was underfunded with over $66 billion in liabilities and $3 billion in assets.
The fix helps businesses save money and grow.
Schwebels, Behmer said, will invest $450,000 to upgrade its equipment in the coming weeks.
The Butch Lewis Act keeps about 120 solvent, well-funded pension plans for 30 years, Brown said.
It also restored full benefits for retirees in plans that previously faced cuts and increased the maximum amount of insurance from Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., he said.
Brown introduced the plan about five years ago.
It affects more than one million people nationwide, said Ralph Sam Cook, secretary and treasurer of Teamsters Local 377 in Youngstown.
“Over the years we worked hard and paid our pension contributions, and we were promised our pensions when we retired,” Cook said.