March 24, 2015: Over 200 active and retired Teamsters packed the Cincinnati Local 100 hall for the monthly Retirees Club meeting to hear speakers address the pending cuts to Central States pensions. Mike Walden, chair of the Northeast Ohio Committee to Protect Pensions, told a standing room only audience that it was time to organize to push back the attacks on retirement security.
That same day, 150 Teamster retirees met at the Columbus union hall and heard Greg Smith, an Akron Local 24 retiree, speak on the pension issue. Representatives from U.S. Senators Brown and Portman’s staffs were also present to hear retirees speak out on the importance of maintaining the pensions they rely on for their retirement. See the article covering the meeting in the Columbus Dispatch.
Tom Krekeler, a retired Local 114 Teamster and Secretary-Treasurer of the retirees club, said, “Out of this meeting, we’re organizing a pension committee. We need to get the word out to hundreds of members who know nothing about what’s coming. We got a number of volunteers to sign up to help out. Spouses are getting involved too. We need to let Central States know that we won’t accept cuts without a fight.”
A committee was also formed in Columbus to carry forward the struggle to protect pensions. On March 21, a conference call of 100 pension committee and activists, convened by TDU, got reports from some committees and from the staff of the Pension Rights Center in Washington DC, on where the grassroots campaign is headed.
The campaign is spreading throughout the Central and Southern regions, and beyond.
Since Whitley Wyatt retired in 2000 after 33 years as a trucker, he’s collected a pension of $3,300 a month.
Now, the 71-year-old says as much as $2,000 of his monthly check is at risk because of legislation passed by Congress last year that is meant to help underfunded multiemployer pension plans bolster their finances by giving them a way to cut benefits for some retirees.
Click here to read more at The Columbus Dispatch.
March 13, 2015: Bob Amsden, a retired Local 200 Teamster, isn’t sitting by while Central States ponders pension cuts. He got involved in forming the Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions and helped to organize a recent Milwaukee meeting that attracted over 60 retirees, spouses, and active Teamsters. Amsden recently spoke with a reporter from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The story ended up being a front page article.
Many active and retired Teamsters don’t know of the pending benefit cuts. You can help inform the thousands that may face cuts in the coming months. Contact local newspapers and reporters. Tell them the importance of this story. Write a letter to the editor. Use the local media to help spread the news.
March 3, 2015: The Central States Pension Fund and several smaller funds in the months to come may seek to cut the earned benefits of retirees and active Teamsters. Teamster members have a right to know what the procedures would be, so that we can be better armed to fight back.
A detailed outline of the procedure and timeline is available here for review by concerned members and retirees. This outline explains that the process cannot be immediate; the law provides time for review, for the publication of opposition statements, a vote by all participants (active and retired), and in the case of large funds at least 10,000 participants, the appointment of a retiree representative.
Teamsters are not sitting back and waiting for the hammer to come down – retirees and active Teamsters are organizing now to change the law that requires the full burden of the economic meltdown to fall on working and retired Teamsters.
Last weekend the Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions held their latest meeting, with a representative of the North East Ohio Committee to Protect Pensions on board to speak. The meeting received a strong statement of support from Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee. We are working to build a strong list of Congresspersons and Senators ready to make changes to the unjust law.
Could your pension fund move to cut benefits? This list indicates which pension funds could consider cuts. In addition to the Central States Fund, the list includes Western Pennsylvania Teamsters Fund and a large number of small funds in the New York - New Jersey area, especially locals in declining industries.
Whit Wyatt of Washington Court House worked as a teamster truck driver for 33 years. Now Whit and his wife Barb have a comfortable retirement living on Whit's teamster pension and social security.
But Wyatt is one of hundreds of thousands of union retirees who may soon see severe cuts to their monthly pension checks. “I've planned my life around my guaranteed pension and it just looks like that's going to be taken away," Wyatt said.
Click here to read more.
Bill Hendershot and his wife live on his union pension and Social Security. Hendershot, a retired Consolidated Freightways long-distance truck driver, gets around now in a 12-year-old Toyota Corolla. The couple still pay a mortgage on their home in Canal Fulton.
And he’s among a huge group of union retirees nationwide who could see their monthly private pension payments cut as much as 60 percent under a national reform measure signed into law in December by President Barack Obama.
Click here to read more.
Some multiemployer pension fund executives are trying to figure out whether to take advantage of a controversial new reform law that allows potential benefit cuts for participants and retirees. Others are hoping for further reforms to allow for alternative plan designs.
The Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 — passed swiftly in December — allows deeply underfunded plans to take unprecedented steps to avoid insolvency but comes with strings attached. It also gives federal regulators some new tactics that could help save troubled multiemployer plans (Pensions & Investments, Dec. 22).
Click here to read more at Pensions & Investments.
February 5, 2015: Teamsters in Southern California held a packed meeting to build a campaign to elect new International Union leaders. Next up: Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio on Feb. 21-22.
Teamsters in the Midwest have been hammered with contract concessions and the threat of pension cuts. Now members are coming together to organize for new leadership and a new direction for our union.
Members are holding meetings to gear up for the International Union election in Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio for the weekend of February 21-22.
Featured speakers include Tony Jones, the President of Columbus Local 413, Fred Zuckerman, President of Louisville Local 89, and Tim Sylvester, President of New York Local 804.
In the last International Union election, the opposition forces were divided.
This time, Sylvester, Zuckerman, Jones and other Teamster leaders are building a coalition effort that is uniting Teamsters, including former Hoffa supporters, in a united movement for change.
Freight, UPS and UPS Freight Teamsters are leading the effort in Ohio and are reaching out to Teamsters in other jurisdictions.
Retired Teamsters, concerned about the pension issue, are also getting involved. They want International Union leadership that will fight for retirement security.
February 4, 2015: Could your benefits be cut under the new Pension Cut legislation? Find out here.
The Central States Pension Fund is not the only Teamster pension plan where retirees may be threatened with benefit cuts because of the new pension law pushed through Congress in December.
The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has compiled a list of 100 plans that may be permitted to cut benefits as a result of the new pension law. Several Teamster funds are on the list.
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February 4, 2015: Teamster members are making their voices heard about the threats to our pensions.
John Raffiani is sick about what may happen to his Central States Pension but that’s not holding him back from doing something about it. He contacted a reporter at the Albany Times Union and made sure the pension cuts story made headlines in his city.
Check out the coverage in the Albany Times Union.
The pension cuts story needs to be told in cities and communities across the country--and you can help. Your story is important and TDU will work with you to get it out to the press and to the public.
Call TDU Organizer Peter Landon at (313) 842-2600 for more information.
Teamster members and retirees are coming together to defend our pensions.
Contact TDU to get involved and help organize a pension meeting in your area. We can help, including with guest speakers who can help explain pension issues and what’s next for the pension protection campaign.
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