November 5, 2002: The Central States Pension Fund, in a bulletin to all local unions dated November 2002, has finally made a comment on the sudden removal of Ronald Kubalanza as director. He was replaced on Oct. 16 by Thomas Nyhan, the fund’s general counsel. Unfortunately, the statement gives no reason for Kubalanza’s removal, so it raises more questions than answers.
The bulletin goes on to state that reports that initially appeared in Traffic World of three union trustees stepping down are exaggerated. The fund reports that Ray Cash is stepping down as one of the five union trustees, and that Phil Young has temporarily vacated his seat. They report Young will come back as a trustee, assuming Cash’s position, effective March 31, 2003. Fred Gegare has been appointed to fill the vacant trustee position.
Members deserve answers regarding why the long-time director of the fund was suddenly removed. Lacking honest answers, rumors will continue to spread.
International Union to Issue Report
On Nov. 12 the International Union announced they would retain two firms to perform an independent assessment of the actuarial condition of the Central States Fund. The announcement is clearly timed to try to derail the growing movement of Teamsters demanding pension improvements and relief from unjust re-employment rules.
In fact, the general counsel of the International, Patrick Szymanski, told the St. Louis Dispatch on Nov. 18, “We’re concerned about how hard the union should push for increased pensions, given increased contributions (from employers).” Szymanski, whose firm is paid millions of dollars per year by our union, seems to know the result of their “study” in advance: no pension increases for members. He didn’t publicly comment on the re-employment rule or the increases in payments for retiree health care.
The Central States Fund — like almost all pension plans — has lost assets with the decline of the stock market in recent years.
The officers-only pension plan that covers all International officials and top staff, including Hoffa, Phil Young, (and yes, their attorneys) has no re-employment restrictions whatsoever. It is very much more generous than the Central States Fund, and its benefits go up every time salaries go up, which is every year. It also provides free health benefits for life.
The International Union says the study should be completed early in 2003. We urge them to release the entire study – which members are paying for – not just press releases.