U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown toured Schwebel's Bakery in Youngstown Monday where he reflected on his legislative efforts to secure pensions for union bakers and workers.

"It's fun to see things being made in Ohio, what the Mahoning Valley is known for more than anything is making things," Brown said while touring the Midlothian Blvd. bakery.  

The workers tasked with making the company's well known breads, buns, rolls and baked treats were facing an uncertain financial future, with threats to cut their pensions by 30 to 40 percent.

Last year the passage of the American Rescue Plan included the Butch Lewis Act, which Brown says will save 100,000 Ohioans pensions.

Workers shared their relief.

"Without your pension, you work for the rest of your life," John Howley said, baker and shop steward of BCTGM Local 19. "With your pension, you could at least have quality of life, a good pay and you have some security."

The Butch Lewis Act will keep multiple employer pension plans solvent and well funded for 30 years. It puts several billion dollars into the pension funds for union workers, while at the same time allows companies to meet obligations at an affordable rate.

Schwebel's Vice President of Sales Jim Behmer says the funding helps, as the company is also dealing with higher operating costs.

"Now all we have to worry about it is getting the right amount of labor and worry about these commodities through flour and of course fuel, all these commodities that are killing us," Behmer said.

Schwebel's will shutdown for 60 hours next week to replace some of its bread conveyer lines. Behmer says they plan to spend about $450,000.


While those union workers are comfortable with their pensions, the almost 20,000 salaried Delphi retirees who lost their pensions during the 2009 auto bailout are still waiting for progress toward financial security.

Senator Brown is an original sponsor of the Susan Muffley Act, which would restore lost Delphi pensions if it gains enough support.

21 News asked Senator Brown about the status of a bi-partisan solution through Congress.

"We don't have Republican support outside Ohio yet, that's the problem, because we have democrat support, we have Senator Portman and Turner, but not yet republicans in other states, we think we can pass this," Brown said.