July 21, 2009: Thousands of Teamsters are laid off or working less than full time. Now some 50,000 working and laid-off Teamsters at YRC are voting on an economic relief deal that would take them out of the Teamster pension plans for the next 18 months.
Our questions this month cover some issues involved in these situations.
Q: I work at YRC. If the proposed relief package passes, I will not accrue anything in my pension for 18 months. I’m looking to retire soon, even if YRC makes it. Will that gap affect my retiree health coverage?Good question. It was asked at the International’s July 14 meeting for local officers, and the answer from the front of the room was simply to ask your pension fund! Yes, it varies from fund to fund. In the Central States Fund, your retiree health care will be unchanged if your last five working years are paid into the H&W fund, even if you have a gap in the pension fund. As we go to press, we don’t yet know the answer for every fund; as information becomes available, we will post it on www.tdu.org.
Q: Years ago, we got a year’s pension credit if we worked 180 days in a year. I don’t think I will get that many this year. What credit will I get?
With all the layoffs, this is a big issue. The 180 day rule applies to the Central States Pension Fund. If you work less than that, you will get a partial year (e.g. for counting toward 30-and-out). In the Western Conference Fund, you only need 500 hours to get one year credit toward your early retirement. That is a generous rule—most Teamster pension funds have a higher number.
Q: On that 180 days, do weekend days count?
Contracts vary, but most contracts only require employer contributions up to 40 hours. You could get credit for weekend work (in most contracts) toward your 40 hours. But if you work daily or weekly overtime, you still only get 40 hours credit. This is one reason companies will pour on the overtime while others are laid off: they are saving on the pension and health and welfare payments.
Q: If the YRC temporary pension termination is put into effect, can I make self-payments to get my 30 years in?
The answer may vary in some funds, but in many funds, including Central States and Western Conference, the answer is unfortunately No. They will not allow self-payments to extend your credit years that way.
Do you have a question about your pension? Call TDU at (313) 842-2600, or email info [at] tdu.org.