July 17, 2006: In May, a delegation of Teamster local officers and members, some of them pictured above, converged on Washington to meet with Congressional reps about dangers for Teamsters in pending pension legislation. In particular they were on Capitol Hill to deliver a message: the Red Zone Amendment, which would allow pension funds to cut benefits already earned, must go.
“The Bible says ‘confront the devil and he will flee from you,’” North Carolina retiree Frank Bryant said of the delegation’s meetings with senators and staffers. “Well, we are confronting the Red Zone and will keep doing so until it is swept out of this legislation.”
Congress has been working for over a year to adopt pension reform legislation. There are a number of negative provisions in the bill. The Red Zone Amendment would let pension funds cut earned, early retirement benefits if funding levels fall below a certain level.
The International Union at first supported the Red Zone Amendment, but shifted gears after a grassroots campaign was launched, and the recent IBT Convention passed a resolution against it. But the International hasn’t done anything to stop it, so members and locals have taken on the hard battle themselves, combating UPS management on the issue. Petitions with thousands of signatures have been delivered to key senators and representatives by pension activists like Bryant, Local 1035 Principal Officer Chris Roos, and many others across the country. Currently, the pension bill is still before a Conference Committee of senators and Congressional reps.
“The average worker is paying more and more of the cost of doing business and the corporations are getting more of the cream,” Frank Bryant said. “To add insult to injury, they try to take away the benefits we have earned. This is a fight for all workers.”