Hoffa promised a “Real 25 & Out” Pension to every Teamster. Instead, he’s overseen the worst pension crisis in Teamster history. Over 400,000 Teamsters face pension cuts. The pension crisis timeline reveals how we got here. The Save Our Pensions movement points the way forward.
2000: Hoffa comes into office with 185,000 working Teamsters in the CSPF, a healthy ratio of almost 1:1 with retirees. Under Hoffa, companies are allowed to exit the fund, and next to no companies are bargained into it. This is the root cause of the CSPF disaster.
2002: Following the 9/11 attacks, Teamster pension fund suffer stock losses. A report prepared by CSPF Special Counsel William Saxbe warns Teamster President James Hoffa that more money will be needed to shore up the CSPF in upcoming bargaining. Hoffa keeps it secret and assures members that the contracts will “provide the necessary funding to protect members’ pensions.” It’s a lie.
2003: TDU obtains and reveals CSPF documents that prove that Hoffa knew about the CSPF shortfall by May 3, 2002, and lied to members to settle short in the Freight, UPS and Carhaul contracts.
2006: Ken Hall tells the Teamster Convention in Las Vegas that if UPS comes after the Teamster pension plan, then they will “get the sh*t kicked out of them by the Teamsters.”
2007: There’s no sh*t-kicking. Instead, Ken Hall lets UPS abandon the CSPF. The new UPS-IBT plan provides lower benefits than other Teamster plans. TDU and some officers warn that CSPF will now be in grave danger, including thousands of UPS Teamsters who retired prior to 2008. Hoffa and Hall call the warnings “TDU lies.”
2008: Wall Street gambles and Teamsters lose. The housing bubble brought on by Wall Street, especially Goldman Sachs, crashes the US and world economy. The CSPF loses billions of dollars as a result. Hoffa remains silent, and continued warnings about CSPF’s future are ignored.
2009: The Hoffa administration launches a series of concessions with YRC, the CSPF’s largest participating employer. Supposedly pension contributions would snap-back in 2011. They don’t, and YRC contributes a tiny fraction of the contract pension rate to this day.
2012: The Hoffa Administration, concerned about the funding of their own special officer only pensions, boosts dues payments to the plans. $12.5 million to the Family Plan, and $9 million to the Teamster Affiliates Plan. That kind of money could launch a massive political campaign to save the CSPF, but Hoffa denies there is any need.
Hoffa signs a national pipeline contract to allow yet another pull-out from the CSPF. More pull-outs follow, and CSPF falls into more trouble.
February 2013: The move to slash CSPF benefits begins in earnest with the issuance of “Solutions Not Bailouts”, the outline of what would become the pension-cut law. “Solutions Not Bailouts” lists its supporters as the IBT and UPS, among others. James Hoffa is on the Board of Directors of the NCCMP, the sponsor of it. TDU, the Pension Right Center, the AARP and a few unions begin working seriously to protect pensions and head off this train wreck. TDU begins a series of meetings to inform members. The Hoffa administration denounces the warnings as “TDU lies.”
October 2013: CSPF Director Thomas Nyhan is the star witness at the Congressional hearing on “Solutions Not Bailouts.” One day before the hearing, Hoffa issues a new letter, now hedging his bets on “Solutions not Bailouts.” While praising “Solutions not Bailouts” as “extremely thoughtful and sophisticated,” for the first time Hoffa also says that “we cannot at this time support any proposal to cut accrued benefits.” Ten years too late, under growing pressure, Hoffa starts to change his tune.
December 2014: The Multi-employer Pension Reform Act (MPRA) is attached literally in the middle of the night to the omnibus budget bill, with no vote on MPRA in either the House or the Senate. Hoffa finally opposes the bill at the 11th hour. A secret memo from Thomas Nyhan reveals it’s a political show: “[Hoffa’s] minions are preparing a letter to the Hill in opposition to the legislative…I do not believe they are planning on dispatching any troops to the Hill or making any visits but simply writ[ing] a letter they will likely post on their website to offset some of the TDU noise.”