Ohio Headlines

Pensioners rally for second day on Statehouse lawn ahead of field hearing

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTRF) - Once again, pensioners from all over the country came to the Ohio Statehouse to be heard.

They rallied outside, while inside their stories were shared with the powerful men and women sent to Washington D.C. to work on our behalf.

Many of the people at the Statehouse Friday share a similar story; they gave up part of their earnings to participate in a pension plan that now, years later, could go belly up.

They have turned to the federal government to help them make sure that doesn’t happen.

The event started with federal lawmakers addressing the pensioners rallying at the statehouse.

“This bill we’re working on is happening because of you,” said U.S. Senator for Ohio Sherrod Brown.

“We have no choice, failure is not an option,” said U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell from Michigan. “Help us. Tell the stories. Put the real face on this.”

Vince Christiansen, a miner from Utah is one of those real faces with a story.

Christiansen was drafted to go to Vietnam back in 1966. When he got home after serving his country work was hard to find.

“About the only job that paid halfway decent and had benefits was the mines,” said Christiansen.

So he started working with his father in the mines. Four months later his father died in a mining accident.

Christiansen kept working at the mine after his father’s death and saw how his father’s pension helped his mother keep her head above water and he was convinced that if something were to happen to him his family would need that pension as well.

So he started giving up some of his earnings to participate in the pension fund.

A year and a half later his left foot was crushed on the job and his leg had to be amputated, and yet he continued to work at the mine because of the promise of his pension.

“I worked 15 years underground with a prosthetic leg and then 5 or 6 more years after that outside on the surface,” said Christiansen.

He says, he earned every penny of his pension and now he just wants the federal government to make sure it isn’t taken from him by passing a bill that would allow for pension plans to remain solvent through a loan program.

Friday’s joint select pension committee hearing is another step in the process of making that happen.

“The way I feel, and the way the other guys I talk to feel, it would be a simple fix,” said Christiansen. “All they’d have to do is just pass the bill.”

The lawmakers who spoke today at the rally say they have until November 30th to get something done.

They are asking for people to help by reaching out to their federal representatives.

Congresswoman Joyce Beatty from Ohio told those in attendance, “When you get weary and tired, just say the two words: ‘fix it.’”

The committee has been guaranteed that if they can come up with a solution it will be taken up on the floor of the U.S. Senate for a vote without amendments.


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