Plan to Cut Pensions Coming to Congress

August 27, 2013: Workers' pensions are under attack. Chicago's mayor says earned pensions must be cut. Detroit has declared bankruptcy, and Michigan's governor says 21,000 retirees should pay the bill for it.

One of the biggest attacks is aimed straight at Teamster retirees, especially the 211,000 in the Central States Pension Fund. And if corporate America gets away with cutting their pensions, it's going to spread like cancer.

And the worst part is, the Hoffa administration is not fighting back. In fact, they are part of the problem.

It's time for Teamsters to stand up and be counted. All Teamsters and retirees have a stake in this. If you think it's only going to affect the Central States Fund, think again. If our Teamster pensions are not guaranteed, but only a suggestion, then yours can be cut too.

The Poison Proposal

As soon as September, a bill will likely be introduced into the US Congress to allow "deeply troubled" pension plans to cut the benefits of all retirees and cut the already-earned credits of active workers.

The proposal from the National Coordinating Committee of Multi-Employer Plans (NCCMP) is to allow such plans, including Central States, to cut existing pensions in extreme cases to 10 percent over the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) limit of about $1,100 per month.

This would remove a basic protection of our federal pension law. And it is being supported by our Teamster leadership and the Central States Pension Fund, along with major employers like UPS, SuperValu and others.

The bill is based on a document called Solutions Not Bailouts. This document has a number of good elements, but the key part of it is a poisonous proposal to slash pensions as a "solution" to the problems of some pension funds.

TDU is joining with others in labor and consumer and retiree advocates who want to make sure our earned pensions are protected.

What Should be Done To Protect Pensions?

  • Stop the move to allow the Central States Plan (and other "deeply troubled plans") from slashing retirees' pensions, possibly as low as 10 percent above the PBGC maximum of $1,100 per month for a 30-year pension.
     
  • Propose enhanced protection from the PBGC. It is presently funded by tiny contributions from various pension plans: increase them to provide real insurance for benefits.
     
  • End the discrimination in benefit protection against multiemployer (union) plans by the PBGC: raise the covered benefit level, which is now only about $1,100 per month for a 30-year Teamster.
     
  • Put forward a version of the bill proposed by Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) in 2010, to protect the pensions of workers whose companies have gone bankrupt or moved production offshore. This protection would be a boon to our Teamster pension funds and retirees.

Will You Join the Fight To Protect Pensions?

We are forming a Teamster Pension Defense Committee of interested retirees and active Teamsters. If you are willing to be part of the solution, contact us at 313-842-2600 or click here.

We need people willing to write or visit Congressional Representatives, and people who will travel to Washington D.C. when hearings are held, to be present and demand that Teamster retirees be heard.

"Corporate America has their sights set on pensions, and right now the cross hairs are on Teamsters. It's high time for us to band together, join with other unionists and concerned retirees, and fight back."

Michael Savwoir, TDU Steering Committee
Retiree, Local 41, Kansas City

Comments

Mr. Savwoir, TDU Steering Committee, Retiree, Local 41, KC

I attended the April 2013 meeting at local 41. What I heard from Central States was BS attempting to fool me and other retirees that everything was OK. Clearly things are not OK. The Fund has not managed ethically and responsibly. Nor has the employer YRC for years. Hoffa is willing to stab retirees and workers in the back, so the company and Fund can clear their debt balance sheet in the guise of rendering it a "solution" to their financial mess they created. Trustees are obviously playing the same tune, willing to harm retirees lives, yet collecting their millions in earnings as trustees.

Retirees & workers all need to receive a letter telling them to call their Congressman, Senator, and demand that they vote no on any legislation backed by Nat'l Coordinating Committee For Multiemployer Plans, Trustees, Central States, Earl Pomeroy with Alston, a lobbyist for this gross error in judgment.

The Funds need to either slash the monstrous pay of the Trustees, CEOs, or raise dues to get the Funds on a stable footing. Or do both.

This proposal by NCCMP & lobbyists does not strengthen the plans and keep employees in the system. Employees will opt out if their benefits are slashed further. And the Funds will merely continue their gross mismanagement skills. The suspension of collective bargaining agreement on retirees under the guise of resuing the plans in "critical" status to below PBGC guaranteed levels, will sound the death rattle of unions. Because workers will not wish to continue within a union if their benefits evaporate. The Fund, employers, Hoffa made a promise to retirees and they must live up to their word.

Congress must understand their actions removing the basic protections under Federal pension law will destroy thousands of Americans lives dependent on their pensions to live.

John Risalvato, retiree, Yellow Frt

The real problem is orphaned workers.  There are too many piglets and not enough teets.   If these workers had been in a single employer plan they would have already been turned over to the government and be getting their checks from them.  Demanding that those companies left and their workers lose 60% (and growing) of the monies being put into a fund for THEM is an outrage.  This pension fix to clean the books of pension obligation for workers from companies long since gone is LONG over due. 

There is a real problem with America understanding orphaned workers already paid the money into the pension fund. The present workers ARE NOT paying our pensions. The monies for our pensions was put in as we worked for 20, 30, 40 years and that investment is being returned to us NOW. There is NO HANDOUT or GIFT to us. We earned it as part of our pay package INSTEAD OF BIGGER WAGES.

The big problem is that so many of these people paying into the fund now, really have no idea how it is supposed to work. When the so called orphans were paying into the fund it was promised to pay them when they retired. Now because of the corruption in the fund, there isn't enough to go around. The people we should be upset with is the ones who stole this money for all this time and make them accountable for their actions instead of blaming the people who have already paid for their pensions. With any luck we will be able to retire someday with the hope that we can collect what we have been promised all these years that we have paid into the fund. It's ridiculous how the people who have been stealing from us have turned us against each other. Scott needs to put himself in the position of these orphaned teamsters and see for himself what it feels like to be promised a good retirement if you just keep paying while you work. Then because of no fault of his own the company goes out of business and all of a sudden everything you have been promised is gone. They have already paid for what they are to be getting. Stop letting these excutives convince you why they should keep their high salaries at the expense of the very people that pay them. Think for yourself. If we don't stand up to the corruption throughout this union and this government then we will have nothing in the end.