Sherrod Brown

06/09/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/09/2023 16:13

Brown, Spangler Leadership & Workers Celebrate New Facility Made Possible by Brown’s Pension Fix

BRYAN, OH - Today,U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined leaders from the Spangler Candy Company and Spangler workers with Teamsters Local 20 to tour Spangler's new Bit-O-Honey facility. Spangler directly attributes its ability to expand - moving the production of Bit-O-Honey candies to its Bryan headquarters and creating 40 new union jobs - to the passage of Brown's Butch Lewis Act.

"This expansion and these new jobs are possible because of what we did - what you all did - with the Butch Lewis Act. Together we put Spangler in a position to open a new facility, to hire more workers, and to continue serving as an anchor in this community," said Brown. "Everything we celebrate today - the Butch Lewis Act, the Bit-O-Honey facility, the bright future of this company - is a victory for you, it's a victory for Spangler, and it's a victory for Bryan. We're never going to stop fighting for places like Bryan and companies like Spangler - and we're proving today, that fight pays off."

For years, Brown led efforts to solve the multiemployer pension crisis, which threatened the pensions of more than 100,000 Ohioans and put Ohio small businesses like Spangler at risk. In 2021, Brown's Butch Lewis Act was signed into law as part of the American Rescue Plan. The multiemployer pension fix saved Spangler $200,000 per new employee and allowed the company to expand its operations, adding production of Bit-O-Honey to the Bryan facility. Brown was joined by Spangler Candy Chairman and CEO Kirk Vashaw, President Bill Martin, Vice President Niki Mosier and Teamsters representatives including Local 20 President Mark Schmiehausen and Trustees William Neill, Heidi Danner and Tova Blachuta.

"We appreciate having Senator Sherrod Brown visit Bryan, tour our new Bit-O-Honey candy operation, and talk with our employees. Senator Brown's leadership helped motivate Congress to address the most troubled multi-employer pension plans with the March 2021 American Rescue Plan Act," said Kirk Vashaw, Chairman and CEO of Spangler. "The results of this key legislation encouraged us to invest in the renovation of this new factory to house our Bit-O-Honey candy operation and create 40 new jobs in our Bryan community."

"The expansion of the Spangler Candy Company with the Bit-O-Honey brand provides significant opportunity to the members of Teamsters Local 20 and the community of Bryan, Ohio. Union jobs are vital, especially in the current political and economic climate and for that, Local 20 is proud of its working relationship with a company that continuously invests in itself and in its employees," said Mark Schmiehausen, Teamster Local 20 President.

The Butch Lewis Act, named in memory of Butch Lewis, the former retired head of Teamsters Local 100 in southwest Ohio, secured retirement benefits for workers and retirees in endangered pension plans for 30 years-with no cuts to benefits. Brown worked for years alongside Rita Lewis, Butch's widow, who continued her late husband's fight for the retirement security these workers earned over a lifetime of hard work.

Brown's Butch-Lewis Act:

  1. Keeps multiemployer pension plans solvent and well-funded for thirty years-with no cuts to earned benefits of participants and beneficiaries;
  2. Restored full benefits for retirees in plans that previously had to take cuts and increase the maximum Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) insurance amount; and
  3. Requires each plan that receives assistance file regular status reports with the PBGC and Congressional Committees, in order to prevent recurrence and to protect retirees' benefits.