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Sherrod Brown Invites State Of The Union Guest To Rally For Union Pensions

Sherrod Brown
Sen. Sherrod Brown invited Rita Lewis, the wife of the late Teamster activist Butch Lewis, as his "State Of The Union" guest.

Sen. Sherrod Brown hopes to draw attention at tonight’s State of the Union address to a bill that would restore pension plans for a million members that are running out of money. 

Brown has invited as his guest Rita Lewis, the widow of Butch Lewis, a Teamster after whom the bill is named. Back in 2014, Lewis and other retirees got word that their payouts could be cut more than in half.

Rita Lewis says the stress of the pension problem led to her husband's early death. Now, she expects Congress and President Trump to see a betrayal of the middle class when they see her.

“We are the ones that keep this economy going,” Lewis says. “And not just that fact, but we are human beings. We’re veterans, we’re Republicans, we’re Democrats, we’re independents. We did everything that we were supposed to do and we followed the rules and the only thing that we were guilty of is we believed in the people that were supposed to be having our best interests at heart.” 

The bill would loan billions of dollars to the pension plans through the sale of U.S. Treasury bonds. Other plans affected include the Ironworkers, Mineworkers and Carpenters.

Brown says Wall Street squandered the money and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says he’s sympathetic to the problem, but hasn’t committed to the bill or an alternative.