COLUMBUS (WCMH) — More than 10,000 people rallied at the Ohio Statehouse on Thursday, demanding pension reform.
Union workers and retirees from the Teamsters, United Mine Workers, bakery, tobacco workers and grain millers, among others bused in from across the nation.
The rally comes a day before a congressional field hearing on the issue. U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman plan on attending. Brown’s office has said several Ohio pension plans are on the brink of failure. If they do fail, more than 60,000 retirees in Ohio and 1.3 million nationwide will face massive cuts to benefits they earned over decades of work.
“It would be devastating, absolutely devastating,” said retired baker Jack Long.
Without his pension, Long sad he’d lose $1,400 a month. He lives in Whitehall and like many others at the rally, survives on a fixed income.
“It’s not just us. It’s anybody that’s out there working for a living,” said Long. “If the government can go and do something like this to us, what’s going to stop them for doing it to them?”
People came to the rally from Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and many other states to fight for their pensions.
Stanley Sturgill, 73, is a retired coal miner from Lynch, Kentucky.
“I worked 41 years in the coal mines. I had black lung. I was promised a pension. I paid into a pension,” he said. “If they cut it out, I’ll have to in some respects choose whether I eat or whatever because I’ll be losing a lot of money.”
Retired truck driver from Marengo, Charles Sturgeon, said losing his pension would be devastating.
“I’d be living on bare minimum basically, less than welfare actually,” he said. “When I first started I’d be gone 5-6 weeks at a time, so I sacrificed my family for a future later and now they’re talking about taking that away.”
But, they won’t give up. They all gathered together, demanding action to fix the problem.
“It’s what we’ve worked for for so many years and now you’re going to take it away,” said Long. “We have to save our pensions. We’ve worked very hard.”