Why All UPS Teamsters Should Care About The Central States Pension Fund

May 1, 2009: If you are a UPS Teamster in the West or the East, then the problems in the Central States Pension Fund won’t affect you, right? Wrong.

UPS’s pullout has financially devastated the Central States Pension Fund. And the company plan that replaced it is a ticking time bomb of retirement insecurity for nearly 50,000 UPS Teamsters in the Central and Southern Regions.

This may not affect your pension directly, if you’re a UPS Teamster in the East or West. But it will affect your contract and your future. The new problems in the Central States gives the company leverage that management will use to try to win nationwide concessions in the next contract. Just like they did in the last one.

Ticking Time Bomb

One ticking time bomb is the expiring pension guarantee for UPS Teamsters in the Central and Southern Regions (the areas formerly covered by the Central States Fund). Right now, UPS guarantees members’ pensions if the Central States Pension Fund is unable to pay them.

But when the contract expires in 2013, UPS management will no longer have to guarantee these pensions. With the Central States Pension Fund in bad shape, our union will have to negotiate an extension of this protection so that UPS Teamsters won’t lose their pensions if the Central States Fund fails.

Management will surely demand concessions in 2013, and not just in the Central States, in return for renewing the pension guarantee.

Here’s a second ticking time bomb. The UPS company plan that Central and Southern Teamsters are now in pays the lowest pension benefits in the country. The tens of thousands of UPS Teamsters in this fund need, and deserve, to bring their benefits in line with pensions in the East and West. That will be a costly improvement. UPS is sure to demand concessions in return.

In the last contract, UPS used the problems in the Central States Pension Fund to extract concessions from every UPS Teamster. Management has a plan to do the same in 2013.

The Hoffa administration didn’t have a plan to stop concessions and protect our pensions when UPS was making record profits. Why should we believe they will do better next time?

The good news is that there is an International Union election in 2011. UPS Teamsters will be able to vote out the Hoffa administration and replace them with new leadership and a new direction before we get to the bargaining table.

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