November 4, 2004: Teamster members have been pushing for trustees to protect pension benefits, and to win higher employer contributions to make up for the stock market downfall following September 11.
Finally, a group of pension trustees has heeded the call. The trustees of the New Jersey Joint Council 73 Pension Fund responded to their funding shortfall by forcing contributing employers to double their contributions to avert a benefit cut.
But the JC 73 Pension Fund is for local union officials and staff only. Doubling the size of the “employer” contributions means that local unions will be sending twice as much of the members’ dues money as before to fund their officials’ pensions.
The amount of members’ dues that local unions are now paying into this extra pension plan is equal to 20% of the total gross salaries of all employees and officials! That’s a lot of money that could be used for organizing or to build Teamster power.
For some local clerical staff, the JC 73 plan is their only pension. But for the vast majority of the fund’s participants—local union officials—the JC 73 pension is a second (or even third) pension. The plan also features a generous lump sum payment option.
It’s good to know that at least somewhere in our union, fund trustees are going the extra mile to avoid pension cuts. Now wouldn’t it be nice if some trustees would do the same for the rank and file—say out West and in the Central States?