In a C-Span-broadcast debate, a Teamsters International candidate seeking re-election says the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) for the U.S. Senate was in response to his commitment to support their "pension reform" legislation.
The question was asked of Ken Hall, the union's secretary-treasurer and running mate of Teamsters President James Hoffa, why the union endorsed Portman against Democratic Senate candidate Ted Strickland, given Portman's record of supporting free trade.
Hall said that the union disagrees with Portman on free trade, but that the solvency of their members' pensions is a more important issue.
"The reason, the sole reason, is we got a commitment that he would support our members on the issue of pension reform," Mr. Hall said.
Portman is the author of the Pension Accountability Act, which he said protect Ohioans from having their pensions cut with no say in the process.
In a statement in April, Portman said he voted against an attempt to solve the problem of the endangered pension funds called the Multi-employer Pension Accountability Act in 2014.
“The facts are, this legislation, the MPRA, was pushed through in dark of night, never had hearings in the Senate...it was brought forward as part of a huge bill, that’s why I voted no on it. ... It’s about democracy. It should be a democratic process...If you don't send your ballot in, you shouldn’t be counted as a yes. They should count the ballots that are sent in. ... [Under my legislation], your vote actually counts, because you’ve got to get a majority of retired and current Teamsters.”
In announcing the endorsement July 25, Pat Darrow, President of the Ohio Conference of Teamsters, said: "When it comes to hardworking Ohio families, Rob Portman has our back. Rob is fighting for middle-class jobs and higher wages for the people of Ohio, and he has fought with us to protect our pensions. We look forward to supporting Rob and continuing to work with him in the U.S. Senate.”
The Portman campaign issued the f0llowing statement today:
"The level of Ted Strickland's desperation and excuses are never ending and shameful. Rob is proud of his work to help working families secure the full pension benefits they’ve earned. And the fact is, when the Teamsters, the United Mine Workers, the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18 analyzed the records of both candidates, they all concluded that Rob is the only person in this race with a proven record of standing up for hardworking Ohio families," said Portman Campaign spokesperson Michawn Rich. "No amount of whining from the retread candidate can erase the fact that under Ted Strickland, Ohio lost more than 350,000 jobs and ranked 48th in job creation."