September 11, 2009: Baltimore pension trustees have made drastic cuts to early retirement benefits for freight and carhaul Teamsters.
Now many are facing more years on the job than they ever expected.
On Aug. 4., the Local 557 Pension Fund announced drastic cuts for Teamsters taking early retirement after Sept. 4. (The Teamsters are members of Local 355, but they kept their own pension fund after their locals merged.)
Before the cuts, members with 30 years of service could take an unreduced pension at age 55.
Now, Teamsters who retire before age 65 will take a big cut. A Teamster retiring at age 60 will only get 57.15% of their full pension. A Teamster retiring at age 55 will only get 34.59% of their pension.
For example, a 30-year Teamster retiring at age 59 will lose over $1,300 a month, for life.
“I was one year short of the Sept. 4 deadline,” said Luther Clark, a 31-year Teamster in Local 355. “I was planning on retiring next year. Now I’m looking at ten more years in the truck.”
These cuts are possible because the fund is in the Red Zone.
This is the second year in a row that Local 355 officials have cut benefits for Baltimore Teamsters. Last year, Local 355 President Denis Taylor froze the pension in the largest Local 355 plan, a fund that covers Teamsters at UPS, Sysco, US Foods, but not freight and carhaul.
Hundreds of Teamsters signed a petition against the cuts, and this year, their plan ended the freeze and restored a small pension accrual.
Both times, Local 355 Teamsters were left in the dark about the problems with their pension funds.
“We only found out our fund was in trouble when they announced the cuts,” Clark said.
I Thought I Only Had One Year to Go
“We only found out our fund was in trouble when they announced the cuts.”
“I was one year short of the Sept. 4 deadline. I was planning on retiring next year. Now I’m looking at ten more years in the truck.”
Luther Clark, New Penn Local 355, Baltimore