Casey hails Democratic victory as he announces federal funding for union workers in Pennsylvania

HERSHEY – Senator Bob Casey (R-PA) joined members Bakery, confectionery and tobacco workers and the International Union of Grain Millers on Friday in Hershey to celebrate the fact that American Rescue Plan funds have finally been distributed to support their retirements.

While his speech was a victory lap for the legislation that helped it cross the finish line, it was also an opportunity to remind election season voters of the crucial Democratic victory and draw a contrast with Republicans.

“Typically, Republicans, when they get the opportunity, vote for big companies and the very wealthy,” Casey said in union hall 464. “We want to give us a chance to keep our promise to those who work so hard for these pensions.”

The funding came from provisions of the 2021 American Rescue Plan, which Casey and Ohio State Senator Sherrod Brown particularly championed. Ultimately, about $34 billion will go to union pension funds struggling with shortages across the country.

The funds announced by Casey were donated to the Bakery and Confectionery Association and will go to approximately 103,000 workers and retirees across the country. About 6,700 are Pennsylvanians. The split also meant a roughly million-dollar employee pension aided by federal funds.

As Casey was keen to point out, the American Rescue Plan Act passed without a single Republican vote.

The $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, which was passed while much of the country remained in lockdown during the Covid pandemic, was met with mighty Republican opposition at the time.

Former Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who left the Senate in 2023, called the multi-faceted stimulus package “ colossal waste and economically harmful

The pension benefit in particular has drawn interest from some Republicans who saw it as a bailout for unions whose funding had dried up long before the pandemic.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), who previously made unsuccessful attempts to address the 2021 pension crisis. called retirement benefits under the American Rescue Planblank check, with no means to hold poorly managed plans accountable.”

But for Casey and the unionists who joined him, the bill was a success. The money received by the bakery and confectionery workers’ union is intended to guarantee the pensions of their employees until 2051. According to the White House coordinator of the American Rescue Plan, Gene Sperling, by 2031 they faced a staff shortage of 45%.

“Every worker in Pennsylvania should vote for Biden and Casey,” said Anthony Shelton, president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.

Casey believes that to win the election, we need to remember Friday’s events about how Democratic policies helped voters.

“If we don’t tell people what happens after the legislation is passed, people won’t know what happened,” Casey told reporters after the event. “I want to hold as many events like this as possible to celebrate and uplift the spirit that this is a victory for workers.”

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