Why Should Teamsters Pay the Price for Wall Street Greed?

December 9, 2011: When Wall Street greed crashed the stock market in 2008, my pension fund, Central States, lost $9.5 billion. This year, it will have to make $2.2 billion just to tread water.

The stock market crash also dried up credit when YRC needed it most. Freight slowed to a trickle in the recession.

While Wall Street got bailed out, freight Teamsters got sold out—concessions, layoffs and pension cuts. I’ll have 41 years in the industry and 38 years of contributions before Central States says I can retire with a full pension at age 62. Those years of wear and tear on my body makes me wonder how long we freight Teamsters last into retirement and how little our pension really pays out.

The banksters got theirs and so did some of our biggest nonunion competitors.

Just look at FedEx: from 2008 to 2010, they paid just 0.9 percent of their profits in taxes. Con-way got off even better, with a $26 million refund, for a tax rate of -9.1 percent.

How does that stack up to your tax refund?

While Corporate America and Wall Street are getting bail outs and tax write-offs, legislation to protect the pensions of millions of union members has been stuck in gridlock for over two years.

It’s no wonder: The politicians in Congress have so many corporate sponsors, they should start having to wear them on their suits like NASCAR drivers.

Congress isn’t going to take action unless they feel some real heat from our members.

Back in 2009, Sandy Pope and other local leaders proposed a march on Congress to unite unions and our allies to fight for retirement security.

That was a good idea. But the IBT’s lobbyists said let’s give Congress a little more time. We’ve given them plenty of time. Congress hasn’t done anything.

There are thousands of Teamsters like me who are angry and want to do something about it. And there are millions more working people in our same boat.

The country is talking about runaway corporate greed. Hoffa is saying some good things about holding Corporate America accountable. It’s time to turn those words into action.

Members and retirees need to push on our International Union to help jump start a movement to protect workers’ pensions. The mood is shifting toward doing something to help the 99% who didn’t get a bail-out.

Let’s push our local unions and our International Unions to educate and mobilize our members for pension justice. If we lead, maybe our leaders will follow.

By Tim Pagel YRC Dock Local 988 Houston

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