Uniting the Movement to Save Our Pensions

Competing pension bills are being put forward that are dividing the pension protection movement. How can we unite retired and active Teamsters to save our pensions and our pension funds?


In the coming weeks, two bills aimed at protecting workers’ earned pensions are expected to be introduced in the US Congress.

Those two will be in the hopper, along with the Keep Our Pension Promises Act (KOPPA), which has co-sponsorship of a number of Senators and Congressional Reps, and is supported by the pension protection movement, Teamsters for a Democratic Union, and several unions.

Why More Bills?

For two years, Hoffa’s pension spokesperson, John Murphy, has repeatedly promised that the IBT will get bipartisan support for a pension protection bill. 

Now, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown will introduce the Hoffa-backed bill, which provides for long-term loans to troubled pension funds and no benefit cuts.

This sounds great. The problem is this bill is not expected to gain bipartisan support. That is precisely why KOPPA, which is a viable solution, has stalled.

Most Teamster local and Joint Council officers and various Teamster pension funds have therefore rejected Hoffa’s approach, in favor of a strategy that could gather enough support to pass. 

On September 20, the vast majority of Teamster local officers assembled in Chicago listened to John Murphy and then voted to reject his approach, in favor of a potential bill supported by UPS and the Central States Fund and other pension funds. 

This bill will provide for pension cuts of up to 20% and “shared sacrifice” provisions to provide funding that will shore up pension funds for the long term. 

The pension protection movement is holding out for no cuts, and many are reluctant at this point to embrace a compromise that could pass Congress. You can understand why.

Uniting Retirees and Actives

From the start, there has been some tension in the movement between the interests of retirees and active Teamsters. 

Some retirees feel that even if the fund is going to run dry, they should retain full pensions until it does.

But that would leave zero for active Teamsters who have worked a lifetime, and are yet to collect a dime.

And it would greatly weaken our union, which needs viable pension funds as a key element of Teamster power.

We need to stand united and fight to save the pensions of retirees and actives—and to save our pension fund for the future.

Where We Stand

TDU continues to support KOPPA, which is the no-cuts bill.

We also realize that compromise and shared sacrifice will be part of any solution to the problem.

If the bill backed by UPS and most Teamster officers moves forward, we will fight for the best possible provisions, because almost no bill gets through Congress exactly as originally proposed.  And the corporate lobbyists will be busy working against us.

We are in this to win the best possible solution to protect pensions and to protect Teamsters in the future.

We call on the Hoffa administration to quit the grandstanding and to work with the vast majority of Teamster officers – most of them Hoffa supporters – who want the Teamsters to unite around a plan to save our pensions and our pension fund.

Showing 48 reactions

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  • carol Podesta-Smallen
    commented 2018-03-03 22:54:12 -0500
    I got another letter from teamsters Local 805 regarding my pension. They are cutting my pension from $2600.00 a month to $1022.00 a month, therefore making me lose my home! I am 64 retired from my 2nd full time job working with Autistic toddlers. I took that job after retiring from Panasonic with a wonderful “for life” pension…it didn’t pay well, but I had this WONDERFUL PENSION that I would have for life, so between the two, my income was sufficient. When I bought my house, my pension had everything to do with my decision to buy. On my salary alone I would never have been able to buy, but because I had this WONDERFUL PENSION to pay my mortgage, I didn’t hesitate. My husband passed away 10 years ago, after me being his caretaker for 8 years. Shortly after, my mom passed. I had been on anti depressants and anti anxiety drugs for 14 years. I retired from my job as an ABA para because I couldn’t do it anymore. My memory is shot and I am unable to work in a classroom with toddlers anymore, special education to boot. My pension was just short of $400. a month, but that on top of my LIFE LONG PENSION of $2600. a month, enabled me to just pay my bills and get by. LOCAL 805 thinks they are being fair…people over 70 would get a minor cut, and people 80 or over would not be cut at all….Oh, and people who are on a disability will not get touched. If I knew this could happen, I would be on disability…Lord knows my medical records would have backed me. But I never thought to apply because my pension would keep me above water. The feeling that I had when I opened that letter today was much like the feeling one might have when they are on vacation, and a neighbor calls to tell you that your house just burnt down and you have lost everything. I feel paralyzed…I have no one to turn to for help. They had the nerve to say they were being fair. I read a piece from a 30 year veteran in the same local, who is being cut 30%…and in NY, teamsters are at risk of having their pension cut by 1/3….NO ONE’S PENSION SHOULD BE CUT, but if the teamsters local 805 is correct that the government HAS to agree to it, why is mine being cut by 61%? They said that when this goes into effect, my age will be 65.08!! They know to the fraction! The problem with that is that I may live too long, so they want to cut more from me, than the 70 year old who will more than likely not live too much longer, or the 80 year old who they are hoping will die real soon. My first letter stated that after the government approved their request, then we, the members would have to vote. So tell me, who in hell, being in their right mind would vote yes? If we vote yes, we will be cut soon, but if we vote no, we will continue to collect our promised pension until 2022 at which time, we will be cut to $929.50. Oh…maybe those members who are only being cut 20 or 30%, because if their pension is greater than mine, the difference will hit them harder. But no matter, because this letter I just got made no mention of the members VOTING…They are just going to take our money, and our homes, and our lives. What’s going to happen to me? I feel helpless…I don’t know what to do.
  • Bob Kelley
    commented 2017-10-25 20:59:36 -0400
    None of your numbers add up. At less than fifty percent funding, according to last year’s report, a twenty percent cut is just kicking the can down the road. We will be facing the same problem in a few additional years if that plan is approved and implemented. Second, concerning the plan to take out loans. If you can’t pay the pension then you cant take out a loan, pay pensions and repay the loan. That makes as much sense as saying I can’t afford to pay my bills so I’m going to take on more debt to resolve my problem. The truth is you can’t fix this problem. The problem should have been attacked years ago when it was still managble. You want to put a bandaid on a main artery that’s been tore in half. It is to little to late. Additionally, since some retirees want to suck the plan dry and leave nothing for those of us who are still working I along with many of my coworkers are pushing to get out of the plan and into a 401k. That way at least we will have something and something is better than nothing. There is no point in us working to put money into a plan that will pay the pension of people who don’t care if they leave anything for us.
  • Scott Kendall
    commented 2017-10-22 07:39:34 -0400
    Another day and another week of money paid in for current active participants and handed to greedy, selfish, orphaned retirees that is a permanent loss of time and money for them.

    Every day the balance sheet of the Central States Pension Plan goes down. Everyday active members contributions are thrown down into the same hole is another day lost.

    Partition NOW!

  • Lucky Strike
    commented 2017-10-14 19:16:09 -0400
    Well Tom it is spelled out in the Teamster/UPS pension plan, any cut in CSPF it will make up the difference Only a bankruptcy judge can change pension plan, the only thing that is going to bankrupt UPS is to keep paying for “Orphans Pensions”. The UPS 20% cut plan is nonsense. Do you really think the GOV. is going to borrow, use tax dollars, or print money to lend to CSPF at 1% interest. Don’t you think the working poor would also want in on that great deal. For 30 years you voted for the people who created this situation. They gave you the retroactive pension increases you wanted. To bad the employers went bankrupt before they could pay the piper.
  • Scott Kendall
    commented 2017-10-14 19:04:27 -0400
    @ Glidden, Your local is trying to delay as long as possible the pitch forks and torches by active members who will be left with dirt in a few short years. UPS has already pulled out of CS which means your pension is in a separate plan funded by U P S for UPS only employees. Most of those who have opposed the cuts to save the CS have dug there financial graves. In refusing to accept what was a real solution they threw around blame, denials, and wishful thinking and will have no one to blame when this thing crashes and burns. They could have at least gotten more than the PBGC is supposed to pay ( they won’t pay even that when they go belly up on the same day CS does) so now they will get 2 cents on the dollar until even that goes bye bye. Congratulations “no cuts-rush to cut” hero’s.
  • Thomas Glidden
    commented 2017-10-14 18:11:43 -0400
    Lucky Strike, I work at UPS. I’ve worked there 30 years. My local tells me, don’t worry about my pension, UPS will cover any cuts to CSPF. I should be happy right? Until I discovered there is not a written agreement about that. We had someone from my local come and speak to the retirees and I asked him how UPS’s proposal to cut retirees pensions by 20% would affect us still working. He wouldn’t or couldn’t answer me.(I asked twice) If UPS retirees pensions are cut by 20%, I don’t see how they could pay my full pension. You are right this a huge mess. We all stand to loose everything if this isn’t resolved in a way that takes everyone into account. If CSPF goes down UPS’s pension will follow, they will not be the only company paying one. This is a problem that affects everyone. Even if nothing is done and CSPF is allowed to go insolvent, retirees will be forced onto welfare or forced to move in with their kids to survive. Yet the people who created this mess still have their jobs. After working 30 years this should not be happening. We have made a lot people rich off of our labor, UPS continues to make record profits. Maybe its time to talk about a government run pension. I know there isn’t support for that now but things can change if we want it to. Government is there for us too, not just for corporate america.
  • Lucky Strike
    commented 2017-10-14 16:47:54 -0400
    I love it when you people go on about “Letting UPS out of the pension fund”. UPS teamsters voted to leave CSPF, I’m sure they are happy they did. As per the law they paid a 6.1 billion dollar withdraw penalty. All money due CSPF paid in full. I guess the “Orphans” think UPS is their cash cow to milk, bleed to death, use as their personal piggy bank. NUCPP says restitution from the Government or Wall Street is a dead end. That leaves the CSPF going broke in 2024. And the PBGC going broke. Or, partitioning CSPF today, and the PBGC goes broke 7 years earlier. Either way retirees from 73 already insolvent pension fund are going to lose everything. MPRA was passed to prevent the retirees from 73 already insolvent pension funds from losing everything. But more important not pissing away $342 dollars a week in pension contributions to current workers.
  • Thomas Glidden
    commented 2017-10-14 14:20:15 -0400
    Lucky Strike, partitioning the orphans is interesting but not if it leads to those consequences. If it leads to teamsters loosing their earned pension, then I cannot get behind it. This idea that we need to divide up whats left of CSPF so that the actives at least get something out of the fund is flawed. I’m an active who has worked 30 years, so i should be all for that. Say we do that and I get a few hundred thousand out of it. It wont last the rest of my life, so where is the security in that? I worked those 30 years with the understanding that that pension would be there, now I’m getting ready for retirement and they pull this? We need a solution that we can all live with, the retiree’s and the actives. The people that created this mess need to be held accountable. Tom Nyhan is still in there making his 6 figure salary. Our elected union officials need to be doing more for us. Up to this point, it seems everything they’ve done has made things worse. Letting UPS out of the fund, allowing Yellow Freight and Roadway to not pay into the fund has done nothing but divide us. Without a solution that solves our retirement problem for everyone, then non of us can retire with any security.
  • Lucky Strike
    commented 2017-10-14 11:08:21 -0400
    MIKE and TOM, SCOTT has a point, about partitioning CSPF. the only reason it hasn’t been done is it will bankrupt the PBGC. Not only would CSPF orphans get no retirement benefits , the retirees from the other 73 multi employer pension funds taken over by PBGC would get nothing, that would include teamster pension fund 707.
  • Scott Kendall
    commented 2017-10-14 10:03:13 -0400
    @Michael Berbari : Unless there really are Leprechauns, Unicorns, magic pixie dust, and pots of gold at the end of rainbows money is still money and it will take new money to make ‘everyone’ whole. Whether it’s new taxes or fees that’s what will be called a bailout and that’s what it is. Its semantics to call it anything else. It’s that simple. The issue here is about facing reality with the clock ticking. 1, Without drastic cuts in current retiree benefits especially those from orphaned workers from bankrupt companies the Central States WILL NOT SURVIVE. 2, Again, these same retirees have enjoyed vastly more money as a ratio to contributions and actual retirement benefits all directly attributed to taking money from healthy companies active participants. 3, Again, that systems work when there are 50 strong companies and 1 weak NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND! 50 weak and 1 strong. What’s the ratio now of active to retirees in the CS? 7 retirees to every 1 active worker? HELLO!!! Can we all agree to do 6th-grade math? What has worked in the past and what retirees think they have EARNED doesn’t mean a tinkers-dang NOW! We are where we are! I think the notion of working together needs to be defined around fairness for current active participants. EVERYDAY, EVERY week, EVERY month that contributions for current active participants go into the fund is time and money PERMANENTLY lost for them. Any sense and effort of unity need focused on an IMMEDIATE partition of the pension fund. I think it makes even more sense if as YOU and OTHERS who have pinned there own hopes and prayers on a bailout. So let bring it to a head what is nothing but a guarantee of occurring… financial insolvency of the plan. Let help our active participants by stopping the robbing of there retirement and stopping the can kicking. The current estimate of insolvency for the CS is 2024 and that’s conditional on not losing more money in the stock market to which 66% of assets are in. Should we have even a mini-crash the fund could go belly up years earlier. It’s time to stand behind active participants. Partition NOW! UNITY NOW!
  • Lucky Strike
    commented 2017-10-14 09:30:16 -0400
    So what you are saying MIKE is we should take from the rich and not give to the POOR.
  • Michael Berbari
    commented 2017-10-14 07:05:03 -0400
    Lucky ::: If I gave my money away, How would I be able to donate to the charitable funds that I donate to: If retirees and active workers give up their money, the economy would hurt, then we would end up on welfare which would hurt the economy even more. My suggestion would be for those that don’t have pensions to invest into an IRA or stock market. We gave up raises to have a pension.
  • Lucky Strike
    commented 2017-10-13 18:19:21 -0400
    Mr. Berbari and Mr. Glidden, I think the Christian thing to do with any money that Browns bill might generate, would be to give it to workers that have no employer provided pension or 401k.
  • Michael Berbari
    commented 2017-10-11 22:35:37 -0400
    Thomas Glidden, Thanks again…All we have is prayer and hope, pray that we choose correctly and hope it works out. What I hear is that – all the democrats are leaning towards Brown’s bill and they need about 6 Republicans and they believe they have that. It’s better than doing nothing. The Government like the plan for 2 reasons, the numbers work and it’s NOT a bailout.
  • Thomas Glidden
    commented 2017-10-09 23:42:35 -0400
    Micheal Berbari, its good to hear rational people trying to come up with a solution to our pension problem. I agree with you, we stopped these cuts by coming together. Our only hope to save our pension is by working together to save it. Calls by some, that we should end the fund now and divide it up is absolutely nuts. Anyone who thinks they will save enough in their 401k to pay as much as a pension is fooling themselves. We are in the process of coming up with solutions to the pension crisis, there are at least 2 plans out there that would solve the problems without cuts. Lets see where that goes. I would hope that our elected union leaders would get behind the best plan for the membership and then fight for that plan like there lives depended on it, because for some of the retirees, their live do depend on it.
  • Scott Kendall
  • Scott Kendall
    commented 2017-10-09 09:18:00 -0400
    @M. Berbari, What an awesome perspective and conclusions. You ‘saved’ the pensions of EVERYONE by demanding no cuts. Riiiiight! And you’re having trouble figuring out how others think? WOW! Trying reviewing history and the state of the current political affairs in Washington with one eye and the other eye on the dwindling balance sheet of the Central States Plan. You and the retirees didn’t vote for fairness or reality you voted for greed and contempt. How are all those bailout proposals doing in Congress anyway as we watch the balance sheet march to ZERO? There are facts and then there are fantasies. Hey, why stop with trying to understand me or others on this thread? Why not read the congressional testimony, public hearings, and documents that went into the passing of the 2014 Pension Reform Act? New York Teamsters did and with the cuts are now on a path to solvency and fairness for all. Another fund in New York didn’t and now has gone bankrupt and closed. If you want to understand how I think then decide which one of us are living in a fantasy world. I think you should read the law: Pay special attention to the section titled “Background” and “Partitions of Eligible Multiemployer
    Plans Under MPRA

  • Michael Berbari
    commented 2017-10-09 00:36:39 -0400
    Tom Glidden: Appreciate your thanks, thank you. I am having trouble figuring out how some people think. If we don’t do anything, then our pension is lost for sure. We have to try something to help us ALL out, just as we did by NOT getting pension cut back in July 2016. If we left that up to someone else then we would have been cut. Only because we came together in large numbers we got to keep our full pension for now, we won that battle but not the war,,,,,,yet.
  • Scott Kendall
    commented 2017-10-08 13:46:56 -0400
    It’s not about stopping unity but accepting that unity can only go so far and in these issues has gone as far as its political, mathematically and realistically going go. There isn’t going to be another “fix.” And “earned our pension” has ABSOLUTELY nothing do with it. It’s about MATH!!!! The Central States Fund is melting before all our eyes. Its the choice of current retirees to ride it out till the last penny selling “unity” KOPPA, Brown, and Jacks Magic Beans to delay the active participant’s revolt so to continue collecting benefits in their bank accounts. That’s what a NO vote and no support for the pension cuts did. I say let get on with it and end the life of this fund ASAP! The Central States Fund should declare bankruptcy, dissolved, wind down and closed. Sell off and distribute the remaining asset to all parties. That will get the current retirees to where they are taking this fund anyway. At least the currently active participants will have their present and future contribution put into a new solvent fund or 401k’s. That’s fair for all parties. Becuase the idea that current retirees want to drags this out to soak up the billions in current contributions by active companies and members only to leave them with dirt is unconscionable and immoral. Right now the unconscionable and immoral is the state of affairs right now between the interest of current retirees and the interest of active participants.
  • Thomas Glidden
    commented 2017-10-08 13:26:04 -0400
    Stop the unity? Are you serious Scott? If that is how you really feel, then go and get a non- union job, I’m sure that you can negotiate a much better deal than we can negotiate together. How can you attack the retirees for wanting there full pension? You think their pension is too generous? The time for the companies to object to that would have been when it was negotiating the contract, not after someone has retired. I also like you negotiating tactic of getting behind the worst proposal, because it has the best chance. Ya, you will negotiate much better deal on you own. Thanks again Michael and to everyone else who sees the need to negotiate the best deal for everyone.
  • Scott Kendall
    commented 2017-10-08 11:54:07 -0400
    People, please stop! Just STOP! The “unity” has come and gone. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. Its called the: Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 !!!! That’s is the only reasonable, political, and mathematically possible fix there is..period. Every other current proposal requires a taxpayer bailout…period. When 75% of private sector workers get NO PENSIONS what do you think the chances of them getting behinds a 25 billion dollar bailout of the Central States Fund and an overall 200 billion bailout of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation? How about next to ZERO! That’s why the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 was passed. Every other solution was a “bridge too far.” With each and every annual statement by the Central States Fund disclosing its march to evaporation retirees will have to revisit the only course of action that can and will save the Central States Fund. Right now current retirees, TDU, and everyone else clinging onto a hope for a bailout need to get real and get real fast. OR, its time for a declaration of insolvency and the winding down of current fund assets so current active participants can get current employer contributions put into a new fund or 401ks. That’s an either-or argument that needs to happen NOW!
  • Thomas Glidden
    commented 2017-10-07 11:13:12 -0400
    Thanks Michael, I think that’s what we all want and it should be the goal. we all earned our pension and we all deserve our pension.
  • Michael Berbari
    commented 2017-10-06 01:50:02 -0400
    Scott: I KNOW I don’t make plans for the world. I am Listening, Looking, & Reading for what might be a solution, then pass it on and what ever people want to do with that, then so be it. We ALL have are OWN decisions to make. Mine is keeping OUR pension & having a retirement for the ACTIVE workers.
  • Scott Kendall
    commented 2017-10-05 17:11:21 -0400
    @Michael Berbari, You don’t make plans for the world we wish we lived in we make them for the world we actually live in. That’s why the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 was passed by a bipartisan Congress and signed democratic president with the full support of employers and unions. Koppa, S. Brown or any other fantasy legislation which underneath the title is a bailout by any other name is a tragic and cynical denial of the obvious. IT WILL NOT HAPPEN. The real problem here as I have stated is the selfish retirees. Especially from orphaned and bankrupt companies. Instead of being part of a solution they decided to scuttle the whole thing for the every dollar they could get. Most, if not all, have enjoyed vastly more in benefits than their companies ever paid into to support. I blame the Teamsters here for overpromising by redistribution to keep their local bosses in jobs. That pyramid scheme was only sustainable when we had 50 strong and 1 weak company, not the other way around. THESE RETIREES know that and knew they were getting the deal lives. BUT, when it was time to think about the others still working and their companies still paying in its was FU: I got mine you get yours go FK-yourself. THAT’s the facts. Any and everyone including you who still want to pedal bailouts as a solution is just pissing down the neck of current active participants and telling them it’s raining. It all about barking “unity” and disguising the inevitable so you can squeeze every dollar from their pockets and delay your own day reckoning. Shame on you! I REPEAT there will be NO BAILOUTS. BTW< most of these selfish retirees, our so-called “brothers and sisters” should know that the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is under no legal or legislative obligation to use any taxpayers dollars to even pay its minimum benefit. PBGC will nearly instantly go bankrupt the minute the CS pension farts its last check. So when the Central States Pension Plan goes tit’s up those collecting, say, $3000 a month now will get about $20 a month, that’s right, TWENTY BUCKS, and, when that runs out, ZERO! Great job not facing the facts. Great job “no cuts” heroes.
  • Michael Berbari
    commented 2017-10-05 03:38:43 -0400
    I think people should come together, there is power in numbers. Numbers won keeping our pension from being cut. I believe we should ALL come together and at try instead of saying this and that. We ALL have to work towards a viable solution, and so far Senator Brown has one. If people want to sit back and complain, then they get what they deserve, for those who stick it out and try, then we have a better chance than doing nothing.
  • Scott Kendall
    commented 2017-10-05 03:28:20 -0400
    I think people ought to stop hoping and wish for rainbows and unicorns from Washington. The Multiemployer act that allows for across the board cuts in pension was passed with bipartisan support with a Democrat in the White House.

    For all those current active participants in dying funds like central states start screaming for a partition or having your employer contributions placed in an individual 401k plan. The retirees don’t give a flying fk for you period and just want to squeeze the last dollar out before it goes bankrupt and leave the active members holding dirt in one hand and their “member” in the other.
  • Michael Berbari
    commented 2017-10-03 00:39:34 -0400
    Senators Brown’s bill doesn’t take money from us as the UPS does. Senator Brown’s bill will give us ALL of our money and have plenty of money for the active workers to retire with. That’s the best deal as of right now. The Bill is suppose to come out later this week or early next week. DON"T GIVE IN TO UPS.
  • Al Whitmon
    commented 2017-09-30 18:48:29 -0400
    The Hoffa plan is gone. TDU voted at the meeting in Rosemont to support the UPS plan before anyone knew for sure what was in the Brown plan, but they knew that a plan was coming that same week . The Brown plan, as written will save CSPF, PBGC, the actives and retirees. The only winner with the UPS plan is UPS.
  • Joseph Taurisano
    commented 2017-09-30 11:45:37 -0400
    I thought America was the home of the free how can the teamsters take money out of a pension that we worked for and paid dues every month
  • Joe Pepatone
    commented 2017-09-29 20:38:28 -0400
    I only good bill is the KOPPA bill.
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