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UFCW Local One, Which Represents Thousands Of Food and Commercial Workers At Major Upstate Employers Like Tops Supermarket, Gianelli’s sausages in Syracuse, & Sahlen's in Buffalo, Were Victims Of A Pension System Collapsed Which Risked The Retirement Of Thousands Across Upstate NY 

As Schumer’s First Major Act As Majority Leader, He Secured Pension Fix So Union Members, Like Mrs. Hartman, Who Worked Their Whole Lives But Risked Losing Benefits Through No Fault Of Their Own, Got Hard-Earned Pensions And Could Retire As They Deserved 

Schumer: Buffalo Has And Always Will Be A Union Town, Which Is Why I Am Honored To Have Mrs. Hartman As My Guest To President Biden’s State Of The Union To Show Why We Fight To Help And Protect Our Union Workers & Their Families

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced that he will bring Western New York’s Deborah Hartman, retired Tops “Renaissance Woman” and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) member who had her full pension restored thanks to the American Rescue Plan he championed as his first major act as Majority Leader, as his guest to attend President Biden’s State of the Union. After years of relentless advocacy, UFCW, with 19,000+ members and their families, across Upstate NY, received $764 million pension-fix from the American Rescue Plan, giving UFCW Local One members, like Deborah, the hard-earned benefits that they paid into their whole lives, but lost through no fault of their own. Schumer worked to restore these hard-earned pensions to give UFCW members and their families the financial security they deserve.

“It is my honor to announce that Deborah Hartman, a retired union worker who dedicated her life to various Tops markets across Western New York, will be my guest to President Biden’s State of the Union address. Deborah and thousands of other UFCW union workers – through no fault of their own – could have lost the benefits they earned over a lifetime of work, putting their financial security, retirements, and families’ futures at risk. Workers like Deborah are the beating heart of Upstate NY’s food and commercial industry, serving our WNY communities in our grocery stores like Tops Supermarket and helping make our world famous products like Gianelli’s sausages in Syracuse and Sahlen's hot dogs in Buffalo, but for too long were in a state of limbo, without answers if they would ever receive their hard-earned benefits,” said Senator Schumer. “When I became majority leader, I promised I would not stop fighting until our union brothers and sisters and their families got the pension relief they needed and earned. As my first major act as majority leader I passed the American Rescue Plan and this past year it delivered $764 million for the 19,000 UFCW Local One members across Upstate New York who saw their pensions restored. I am proud to have helped return these benefits to workers like Deborah and thousands of others who have been the backbone of our Western NY economy for years, and I can think of no better person to join me at the State of the Union to show why myself and President Biden work so hard to deliver for our union workers.”

"Due to President Biden's commitment to working people in the United States and the persistence and dedication of Senator Schumer,  this SFA funding guarantees our hard-working members can sleep easy during their retirement years without the fear of losing their well-deserved pension.  We cannot express the relief our members have now that their pension is secure," said Frank DeRiso, President of UFCW Local One said.

Born and raised in Cheektowaga, Deborah Hartman was brought up understanding the importance of a strong work ethic and sense of community. Deborah dedicated 35 years of her life to Tops Supermarkets. Starting as a grocer in 1977, Deborah worked her way up through multiple departments at locations in Depew and the East Side, becoming a “Renaissance Woman” for the company. Her last 20 years with the company were spent at the South Park and Bailey location, servicing the residents of the City of Buffalo. Beyond her work at Tops, Deborah is also passionate about workers’ rights, with her union involvement with UFCW beginning in 1998, spanning 24 years until her retirement. Her contributions to both the company and the labor movement have left an incredible, enduring mark on the community she served for so many years.

Schumer explained that after the 2008 financial crash, many union workers’ in multiemployer pension plans were in danger of collapse due to out-of-control speculation on Wall Street. Multiemployer plans are created through agreements between employers and a union, with plans typically involving multiple employers in a single industry or related industries. Countless families and workers faced the prospect of losing out on retirement savings – through no fault of their own.

Senator Schumer fought to include the Butch Lewis Act in the American Rescue Plan – securing pension solvency in his very first major bill as majority leader. Before the American Rescue Plan over 200 multiemployer plans were on pace to become insolvent in the near term, risking benefits for millions of workers and their families. The law created the Special Financial Assistance program administered by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to protect benefits for millions of workers, reverse harsh pension cuts, and put existing plans on a path to solvency through 2051.

Thanks to Schumer’s advocacy, unions across Upstate NY have received millions of dollars back, restoring their full pensions. Laborers’ International Union Local Union No. 1822, which covers workers throughout the North Country, received a pension-fix funding at nearly $16 million for more than 500 union beneficiaries and their families across the North Country in St. Lawrence County, Jefferson County, Lewis, and Franklin County in January. In 2023, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 237, based in Niagara Falls with 430 members and their families in Niagara and Orleans County, received $32.2 million pension-fix payout from the American Rescue Plan. The New York Teamsters also received pension-fix payout from the American Rescue Plan — at over $960 million for more than 33,000 union beneficiaries and their families across Upstate New York, Long Island, and New York City.