"We Earned Our Pensions"

“We’re organizing a pension meeting for the Twin Cities. Retired Teamsters and those still working at freight companies, grocery warehouses, ready-mix, carhaul, and UPS want to know what’s going on and what they can do to protect their retirement. We’re organizing to get them the answers. We need others doing the same in their local areas.”

Sam Karam, YRC
Local 120
Minneapolis, MN


I was going for 35 years and out. After 31 years, my union rep. said they are freezing the pension (Central States), and I might as well retire now and take what I can get.

So, in 2004 I started my retirement after working for 5 union companies that all shut down. (Inland/Rans Distributing, Churchill Freight Lines, Advance Transportation, Crouse Cartage Company and Parker Motor Freight) Long hours, hard work and 4 of those years were driving nights.

With all the restrictions the Central States Pension Fund has on it I never pursued any type of other work. My wife and I adjusted our income/lifestyle to her job and just my pension check, and made do with that.

Now 10 years later, being 64 and just getting by with my pension check and my wife's job, they want to cut it by at least half. You've got to be kidding! After 31 years of hard work, my age and my physical health not what it used to be, what can I do now?

It's time for companies, the union, the government, and everyone involved to take action to protect and support the pension funds for retirees like me and future retirees.

Where's our government that bailed out Wall St., the banks, and 2 car companies? I'm not necessarily looking for a bailout, but there are solutions! It's time to help the hard working middle class for a change! Let's find a solution, not "take away." I'm just asking for what I worked for and was promised!

John C. Landgraf
Teamster Retiree, Local 364
South Bend, Ind.


"Why should we sacrifice our retirement just because we worked under the Central States pension? We need the same Teamster pension that others in freight will get working in the Western Conference or Chicago Locals 705 and 710. I distributed a petition to Holland Teamsters and got 369 signatures from nearly twenty terminals and locals. We need to make a stand to save a secure our pensions."

Greg Brown, Holland
Local 413, Columbus, Ohio

 


I've worked in Teamster Freight for nearly thirty five years. I planned on retiring after 30 years of back breaking work but they changed it just before I reached the goal. So I went to 57. 

Because of YRC's bad management & financial decisions, we were forced to take concessions on our wages and benefits, and I had to change plans, again. But I’m still counting on getting the FULL pension I earned. I know it's going to take organizing with my Teamster brothers and sisters to ensure we get it.
 
I had breakfast recently with former co-workers who have retired from Yellow Freight. My goal was to catch them up on what’s possibly coming down the pike with our pensions. Not one had heard or knew anything about the lobbying effort by the IBT and Central States, which proposes cutting pension benefits. Even for retirees!
 
At the breakfast, I passed out the petition to protect our pensions and got names and signatures.
 
We all need to get the info and the petition out to working and retired Teamsters. The NCCMP proposals (link here) should be called "No Solutions, Just a Cop Out." We need to remind Hoffa that he campaigned in 1996 on a "25-and-Out" and he needs to make sure we get our promised pension, not help to gut it.

Tim Pagel
Local 988
Houston


I went to work for Murphy Warehouse Company right after Labor Day 1976. I worked locally delivering freight of various kinds to distribution centers, mostly grocery warehouses in the St. Paul/Minneapolis metropolitan area.

After 23 years at Murphy, I worked for a short time for a regional trucking company and then, for 11 years, a ready mix company. My wages (adjusted for inflation) remained essentially flat throughout my working career. But the health benefits and pension were the saving grace. Through it all, my employers were paying contributions to my pension.

I counted on the pension and social security as a savings plan for my retirement.

Then came the Great Recession of 2008 and construction took a nose dive. My income and work were cut by 80%. We lost our house and incurred additional tax liability because of the refinancing. For lack of work, I quit my union job. I went to work non-union in the oil fields of North Dakota. I worked 80-hour weeks to try to keep our heads above water.

I’m now 75, still working to pay off my debts, and collecting a pension of $2,300/month.

Now the Central States Pension Fund is part of a big lobbying effort to get Congress to change the law to allow them to cut my pension. Is that just and fair after all the years I sacrificed to earn a decent retirement? Congress needs to stand up for the little guy, those of us on Main Street America, and make sure that we get what we were promised.

Bob McNattin
Local 120
St. Paul, Minn.


To Members of Congress:

I am outraged by the effort to convince Congress to allow reductions in pension benefits. Please try to think of retirees who have planned our lives based on our pensions. 

I’ve been retired for 9 years after working for over 36 years moving freight across the country. In 1980, due to government deregulation, many companies went out of business in the freight industry. I worked for ten companies at one time (on call) to make sure I stayed active to receive monthly or weekly contributions to the pension.  I earned my pension the hard way as I have a clear memory of giving up many possible wage increases so that money could go towards benefits.

I am also a past President of Teamsters Local 407 and represented 7,500 members at that time. I fear that that proposed legislation to change pension law will be devastating to these members I served and so many more. I know any cut will harm my household. I am a cancer survivor and my wife has health issues as well. We count on my pension to keep us going.

I am currently a councilman in Maple Heights, Ohio and try to represent my constituents fairly. I expect the same from Congress. You bailed out the banks and their executives didn’t lose a dime. Unlike the bankers, we have done no wrong.

Don't be afraid to lend a hand to people who worked hard for their pensions.

Respectfully,

Alex Adams
Local 407 Retiree
Councilman, Maple Heights, Ohio


We have all earned our Pensions....

I worked for 32 years at Roadway Express/YRCW. I am now retired. As a young man when I hired in, I liked the wages, insurance and most of all, the pension. It was hard work, but the benefits made it worthwhile. The pension offered my wife and I security and a way to live comfortably into our old age. In 1980 deregulation of the trucking industry was put into place and the union truck lines began to fall like dominoes. We gave up raises and increased money to the pension fund. 

Many of the fellow Teamsters I have talked to are in disbelief that Congress might allow our pensions to be cut. Some were moved to tears, frightened, while others became fighting mad. The NCCMP proposal is a slap in the face to every Teamster. I have read the 3-page report from the Pension Rights Center and the 10-page report from the AARP. The AARP plan outlined many ways our pensions could be saved. I support the AARP approach. The NCCMP proposal only supports cutting our hard earned pensions as a fix. I hope you will join me in a fight with TDU for a fair solution for retirees and those who have not yet retired. We can win this with your help.

SO, JOIN THE FIGHT NOW......

Dave Scheidt
Retired Teamster
Local 41, Kansas City


I initiated into Teamsters Union Local 128 that later merged into Pittsburgh Local 249. I was a Roadway freight driver and moved to Harrisburg Local 776 with a change of operations. Later, another change took me to Youngstown Local 377. That terminal closed and had another change to Miami Local 769. Why all the moves? I needed to remain in a Teamster pension plan. The promise was $3,000/month after 30 hard years.

I will fight along with my union and TDU to preserve those benefits I earned. Congress better hear us loud and clear. Don't cut our pensions!

Solidarity, brothers and sisters,

Mike Schaffer
Local 249
Pittsburgh


George Balog

After working 31 years, I thought I had a secure retirement. I wasn't planning on living it up but felt I could comfortably pay my bills on my monthly pension check.

I earned my pension as a Teamster. For ten years, I worked for a land survey company and was a member of Local 299 in Detroit. The following 21 years I worked as a UPS delivery driver in Teamsters Local 243.      

I probably racked up an extra 10 years of overtime hours put in over those years, wearing out toe joints, knees and shoulders. None of those hours counted towards my pension.
    
Over the years we watched our budget. We kept our cars 10 years or more, went on a few simple vacations now and again, and made our boys pay a good part of their own college expenses.
     
I viewed my pension as a savings plan, tucked away, where I could live off it in my old age. Now I'm hearing this may not be the case.

I'm told that the pension I earned over those long years will likely be cut without any say on my part. I earned my pension under the contract. Each and every time, we accepted a lower pay raise so more money could go to the pension. We were told we could count on that money when we retired. I trusted that the system was secure. I played by the rules and did nothing wrong.
    
In conclusion, I would hope that Congress would take every measure to protect the pensions of so many retired people like myself that are now left in great jeopardy by threats to our retirement security.  
                                                              
George W. Balog
Retiree
Auburn Hills, Michigan


Larry Kuhn Retiree Shelby, OhioI worked for over thirty years as a union truck driver, with the goal of being able to have a comfortable lifestyle once I retired. Take a look at my work history and you get a pretty good picture that I earned my pension.

1964-70: Air National Guard – Honorable Discharge

1968-69: Roethlisberger Transfer Steel Division – Teamsters Local 40

1972-74: Case Driveway Inc. – Teamsters Local 505

1974-75: Spector Freight System – Teamsters Local 92 and 142

1975-1984: General Highway Express – Teamsters Local 40

1992: ABF – Teamsters Local 40

1992-2009: USF Holland – Teamsters Locals 20, 24, and 40

Government deregulation of the trucking history had a big impact on my career. I followed the work, and had to move my family, to keep earning towards my Teamster pension. Please do not change the law to allow my pension to be cut.

Larry Kuhn
Retiree
Shelby, Ohio


Carl HansenI've been a Teamster in the trucking industry for 38 years. I retired with 36 ½ years of pension contributions. I had 30 years of contributions to Central States. In each contract, we gave up wage increases for the money to go to health insurance costs and our promised pension benefit. Now Central States is pushing for changes that would allow them to cut my benefit. That proposed change to pension law will have a terrible impact on me and thousands of other Teamster retirees. That's not what we earned or what we were promised.

Carl Hansen
Retiree
Waukesha, Wisconsin


Paul HostTo Members of Congress:

My tax dollars paid for 140 billion in bailout money just for bonuses to bankers who screwed up. Defined benefit plans were ruined by these same people. Our taxes funded bailouts for automakers and tax breaks for companies like Apple and GE.

Let's stop giving tax breaks to "Job Creators" who don't create any jobs. Let's stop breaking promises to the poor and middle class. Please stop this class war.

I can't keep delivering 300 pound treadmills until I'm 80 years old. This seems to be the new American dream. I paid into a pension for 23 years but there's no one to help me. It used to be you were a bum if you didn't work. Now you're a bum if you want to get what you paid into like a pension or social security. The talkers on the radio say that seniors are on the dole and firemen and teachers who want their pensions are greedy.

Even the inventor of the 401k says they were not meant for retirement. They were meant to be a way to delay tax payments for the super wealthy.  A secure retirement should not hinge on timing a stock market bubble in order to work. Forcing us to work longer also shrinks the pool of jobs for younger folks.

The NCCMP seems to be just another group of employers trying to get out of paying what was promised to their employees.

The PBGC should keep a promise and maintain benefit levels and create jobs by allowing us to retire. I'm not sure why destroying the middle class is the goal of today's government. I don't think it's a good idea. We spend the little money we have.

I've been funding tax breaks for the wealthy for decades now. Is it too much to ask for what I gave up in wages toward a truly modest retirement after 40+ years of work?

Paul Host
Teamsters Local 200 – ABF
Milwaukee, Wisconsin


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