November 18, 2014: Unless we act now, Congress may end up cutting a legislative deal by year’s-end to allow pension plan trustees to slash the already-earned benefits of retirees as a purported way of saving deeply-troubled multiemployer plans.
This would be a radical departure from the federal pension law and it would wipe out the anti-cutback rule which states unequivocally that once a retiree starts receiving a pension – it cannot be taken away unless a plan becomes insolvent.
It is outrageous for Congress to contemplate allowing cuts in retirees’ benefits as a way of staving off insolvency, without exploring other options to preserve hard-earned pensions.
We all care deeply about the health of our pension plans, but we do not think that they should be allowed to balance their books on the backs of retirees who are most vulnerable.
Say no to retiree benefit cuts. Tell Congress there are other alternatives that must be explored to save multiemployer plans.
Tell Congress no backroom deals.
You can help by contacting your Senators and Congressional Representative in your state and Congressional district. You can also contact their Washington office. The Capitol Hill switchboard is (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your representative.
Take Action. Have you signed the Protect Our Pensions petition yet? Click here.
October 24, 2014: The new Health Plan covering UPS Teamsters in the Southwest and New Jersey Local 177 is improving health benefits. Why won’t TeamCare?
Over the past two weeks, UPS Teamsters in most of the West and in New Jersey Local 177 got some good news in the mail: their health and welfare fund is improving benefits.
The modifications to the plan reduce emergency room co-pays, improve dental and optical coverage, and make other changes, effective September 1.
Members have been up in arms about the cuts in health coverage from day one, and that pressure finally won some improvements.
But what about TeamCare? It’s time for the Hoffa administration to deliver more than healthcare cuts.
She is more than 105 years old and still collecting pension benefits from the Teamsters Central States, Southeast & Southwest Conferences Pension Fund.
The Rosemont, Ill.-based Central States fund, which had $18.7 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, has been paying a pension to her for 41 years.
Click here to read more.
Teamster pension funds are paying the price for full-time job elimination.
September 25, 2014: More ground deliveries should mean more full-time jobs—and more participants in Teamster pension funds. But a review of pension data shows what’s happening is just the opposite. As ground volume has grown in recent years, the number of full-time jobs has fallen.
August 15, 2014: The Central States Pension Fund has given YRCW an extension until 2019 to repay $109 million that YRC owes the pension fund. This was revealed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission and in the 2014 First Quarter Report filed by the Independent Special Counsel on July 30.
That report, along with the Financial and Analytical Report obtained by TDU, indicates that the fund’s assets fell from $18.7 billion to $18.5 billion during the first quarter.
YRC has owed the $109 million to the fund since 2009, when it failed to make required payments, and has twice extended the deadline for making a balloon payment. The latest extension came by vote of the Central States union and management trustees in January, 2014. The trustees are reluctant to strain YRC’s weak finances. YRC makes interest payments of $550,000 per month.
While $109 million is small compared to the fund’s assets, it is still a very significant debt obligation to the troubled fund, as some YRC Teamsters and Central States retirees have already noted.
Central States lost $209 million in assets in the first quarter because the investment return of 1.7% could not keep up with pension payments.
Meanwhile, the Central States Health and Welfare Fund continues to run in the black and build up its outsized reserves. As its number of Teamster participants has more than doubled, with the addition of UPS part-time and full-time members, future reports will bear watching closely. Many UPS Teamsters recently put into the Central States Fund (TeamCare) are finding that certain benefits are falling short of promises made by the Hoffa-Hall administration.
Teamsters retirees from the trucking industry currently enjoy some of the most generous pensions in America—up to $3,500 a month for 30 years of service from any unionized trucking company that contributed to multiemployer pension plans that once covered the industry like a warm fuzzy financial security blanket.
But those pension plans, once thought to be the “Cadillac” of all retirement plans, are in deep financial trouble. And there doesn’t appear to be any bailout coming from Washington.
Click here to read more at Logistics Management.
More than a million people risk losing their federally insured pensions in just a few years despite recent stock market gains and a strengthening economy, a new government study said on Monday.
The people at risk have earned pensions in multiemployer plans, in which many companies band together with a union to provide benefits under collective bargaining. Such pensions were long considered exceptionally safe, but the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation reported in its study that some plans are now in their death throes and cannot recover.
Click here to read more at The New York Times.
“For retirement, the answer is 4-0-1-k,” proclaimed Tyler Mathisen, then editor of Money magazine in 1996. “I feel sure that someday, like a financial Little-Engine-That-Could, it will pull me over the million-dollar mountain all by itself.”
For this sentiment, and others like it, Mathisen was soon rewarded with an on-air position at financial news network CNBC, where he remains to this day. As for the rest of us? We were had.
Click here to read more at The Yucatan Times.
June 20, 2014: The overdue year-end 2013 report on the Central States Pension Fund shows that it grew by $1 billion to $18.7 billion on the rising stock market. However the report stresses the fund trustees’ goal of changing federal law to allow them to cut the pensions of current retirees, and active Teamsters with earned vested pensions.
The Teamster officials who are trustees are at odds with the official position of the International Union, which is to oppose a bill to abolish the “anti-cutback” protections in federal law. The report states that the fund could be unable to make pension payments by 2026, as the justification for their stand.
CSPF Benefits Services Director Al Nelson recently called for 30% across the board cuts in present and future benefits.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), along with the Pension Rights Center, the AARP, and several unions are calling for alternative positive action to support pensions, rather than drastic cuts. You can sign the petition to add your support, and you can find out more about this growing movement.
The 2013 report (submitted by the Independent Special Counsel (ISC)) notes that the fund grew by $1 billion in 2013 thanks to outsized stock market returns. The CSPF has 50% of its asset in three different unmanaged index funds, and those did especially well in 2013.
You can also read a copy of the 2013 Financial and Analytical Report on the Central States Pension and H&W Funds.
A disturbing note in the report concerns Allied Systems Holdings’ carhaul operation. Allied went bankrupt in a hedge-fund dispute. Jack Cooper then bought it, and most Allied Teamsters were able to follow their work (and maintain their pension benefits) to Jack Cooper. But the ISC report notes that Jack Cooper will not be assuming the $900 million withdrawal liability owed by Allied to the fund.
The Central States Health and Welfare Fund continues to operate in the black with its reserves topping $2 billion. The fund has 83,102 participants at the end of the year, but that number has now doubled with the addition of so many UPS and UPS Freight Teamsters.
June 16, 2014: Teamsters, along with many other groups, are fighting back against a proposal Congress is considering to allow troubled pension funds – like the Central States Fund – to slash existing benefits. You can help by signing a petition to the U.S. House of Representatives Education and the Workforce Committee. Help preserve the federal anti-cutback law to protect our pensions.
Click here to sign the petition.
Call TDU: 313-842-2600 to get petitions to circulate in your area.
Pension Action Committees have formed in Northeast Ohio and the Twin Cities. If you want to form a committee in your area, click here.
To learn more about this threat and what you can do, click here.