July 26, 2019

Duckworth, Durbin Help Reintroduce Butch Lewis Act to Protect Worker Pensions

Senators Continue Fighting to Solve Crisis that Threatens Workers, Retirees and Small Businesses


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) this week in reintroducing the Butch Lewis Act in the Senate. Named for the late Ohio Teamster, the Butch Lewis Act would address the multi-employer pension crisis threatening the retirement of more than 1.3 million workers and retirees nationwide as well as putting small businesses across the country in jeopardy.

“These pensioners worked hard jobs building and powering our country to provide a good life for their families,” said Senator Duckworth. “They often gave up pay raises to secure a pension and were promised that when they were no longer able to work, they would be taken care of. Now, their pensions are at risk through no fault of their own. Congress needs to fix this crisis immediately and protect the pensions these workers earned.”

“Our country was built on the shoulders of our labor community, and they were promised a good pension in return for their years of dedication,” said Durbin. “As their retirement security is threatened, we must immediately address this crisis, and protect the hard-earned pensions of these workers.”

The Butch Lewis Act would create a loan program to allow failing multi-employer pension plans to borrow the money necessary to ensure they can meet their commitments to retirees and workers for decades to come. The bill would also protect small businesses from the threat of closing their doors if plans are allowed to fail. The bill would protect multi-employer pension plans without cutting a single cent that retirees have earned. Earlier this year, Duckworth met with retired mine workers from Southern Illinois to discuss protecting their pensions.

Butch Lewis was a Vietnam War Veteran who returned home and worked for 40 years as a trucker and Teamster. He was the retired head of Teamsters Local 100 in Evendale, Ohio. Butch led the fight to preserve his fellow Teamsters’ pensions, and passed away due to a stroke on New Year’s Eve in 2015. Doctors attributed his stroke, in part, to the stress he faced fighting the proposed pension cuts. His wife Rita Lewis has continued her late husband’s fight for the retirement security these workers earned over a lifetime of hard work.

Other cosponsors of the bill include: Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).