American Rescue Plan funding saves thousands of SMART pensions

October 28, 2022

Thanks to multiemployer pension relief included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, approximately 1,600 SMART members in the Sheet Metal Workers Pension Fund based in Massillon, Ohio will have their pension cuts fully restored, including full earned benefit in their monthly checks moving forward.

“This is definitely going to solve our problem,” SMART Local 33 (northern Ohio) Business Rep. Jerry Durieux told local newspaper The Repository. “This is hope for the future, that’s for sure.”

Unions and pro-labor politicians had been pushing for multiemployer pension security – in the form of a special financial assistance fund – for years, with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown introducing it in the Butch Lewis Act multiple times since 2017. Only once a pro-worker majority and presidential administration assumed elected office could the Act – named after a legendary Ohio Teamster – be passed into law as part of the American Rescue Plan. Together with other provisions in the legislation, including funding for indoor air quality, the American Rescue Plan is already proving to be one of the most groundbreaking laws ever passed for working Americans.

“After years of advocacy by workers, retirees, and small business owners in Ohio, Democrats in Congress and this Administration finally saved the pensions that union workers in Massillon earned over a lifetime, with no cuts,” said Senator Brown in a press release announcing the pension relief. “This pension fix will help local workers and the small businesses they work with to grow and continue providing living wages and dignified work for Ohioans.”

Funding from the legislation has already saved 156,759 pensions, with millions more eligible. Furthermore, along with pension restoration for retirees, pension protection funding in the American Rescue Plan will put the Sheet Metal Workers Pension Fund on the path to solvency going forward – helping to secure the future benefits of active SMART sheet metal workers.

It’s important to remember: Those Local 33 pensions would not have been saved if it weren’t for the pro-worker majority elected to Congress and the presidency in 2020. When anti-worker interests were in power in 2017 and 2019, the Butch Lewis Act was dead on arrival – introduced by Senator Brown, but never passed. And if anti-labor politicians and their corporate backers take back control, they will fight tooth and nail to reverse the gains we’ve won. It is essential that we elect pro-worker officials to join labor allies like Senator Brown. Find more voter information here.