Battle Against Cut-Back Provision Will Move Into 2006

December 5, 2005: In November, the Senate passed a version of pension reform that did not include provisions for cutting accrued benefits. That was a positive step forward in a battle that has largely been waged by two groups, the Pension Rights Center and th grassroots Central States Pension Improvement Committee (CSPIC).

In December, James Hoffa came out in opposition to the “Red Zone” cut-back amendment, at least in writing, after supporting it for most of 2005.On Dec. 15 the House of Representatives took up their own version of pension reform for a vote. The CSPIC steering committee faxed letters to Congressional Representatives, opposing the bill if it included the Red Zone amendment. The Pension Rights Center also lobbied against the House version. It is not known what, if anything, the IBT did.

The House passed the bill and it contains cutback provisions. The Senate version does not contain the Red Zone amendment. CSPIC leaders and some Teamster local officers visited Senators and staff earlier this year to help make that happen. The battle will now move into conference committee, with the Senate and House working out differences between the two bills.

This will not start until after the Congressional recess, in late January or early February.

“CSPIC will help get word out to Teamsters once we know who is on the conference committee,” Local 391 retiree Frank Bryant said. “We will need to push hard one more time to prevent this dangerous provision from being included in so-called reform legislation.”

We urge Teamsters to write your Representatives and Senators: oppose the Red Zone amendment that would allow pensions and already-earned pension credits to be cut. Those protections have been federal law since 1984. Weakening them is no way to protect the pensions of Americans.

Click here: Apples and Oranges, or Just Rotten Apples?: Study Counters Central States' Claims
Click here: IBT Needs Plan for Countering Employer Attacks on Benefits
Click here: Central States Fund Trustees Keep Pension and Health Care Cuts In Place

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