The U.S. Treasury Department will issue a decision this week whether to approve or disapprove the drastic pension cut plan proposed by the Central States Fund. A lot is riding on the decision – and even more is riding on what comes after the decision.
What Will Treasury Decide?
The pension protection movement has made this a real question, instead of just a rubber stamp of the drastic pension cuts. Thousands of Teamsters and retirees have marched, rallied, visited Congressional offices, written letters, attended town hall meetings, and ridden buses all night to the Capitol.
We’ve been interviewed by hundreds of newspapers, TV stations and other media outlets. We met in union halls, K of Cs, and Holiday Inns across the South and Midwest.
We’ve reached out to allies and multiplied our impact. We turned around the official position of the IBT from supporting the lobbying efforts that led to the disastrous law (MPRA), to opposition to it and support for the Keep Our Pension Promises Act. Forty six Senators wrote to the Secretary of the Treasury urging a rejection of the Central States cuts.
But we don’t know the outcome. Treasury’s Special Master Ken Feinberg listened to thousands of retirees say No, but he emphasized that he is bound by law to follow MPRA.
He will issue his decision next week – a fateful one for 400,000 Teamsters and retirees.
What Does a NO Mean?
The battle goes on.
A No will send the issue back to Central States, and they will be free to resubmit a revised proposal in conformity to the law and guidance from the Treasury Department. When they would do that, we don’t know. Any re-submission would have to go through a similar process. And a re-submitted plan could possibly be even worse.
A No will not solve the problem, but it will buy us valuable time to keep building the movement, building support for KOPPA or an equivalent viable solution. Time to work to expand our forces and protect pensions from such drastic cuts. Time to build our army to win the war.
The Fund will still be headed downhill if the plan is rejected, so the urgency will still be there. We will never stand still for our fund to go broke, and leave high and dry all the active Teamsters who have worked 20 or 30 years, to be told “there’s nothing left for you.”
The pension movement stands for solidarity with all Teamsters – active and retired and those vested but not yet collecting. Central States Director Thomas Nyhan will say we just want to pay out the money and let the fund go broke, but he’s selling us short. We are Teamsters standing together.
A No vote will put more pressure on Congress to finally take action to fix MPRA.
What Does a YES Mean?
The battle goes on. A Yes will be a set-back for sure, but this movement is not about to quit or give up.
Treasury will conduct a vote soon after approval, with all actives, retirees, and vested participants getting a vote. A mailing will go out, and as the opposition, the pension movement will get to include a statement advocating rejection. MPRA stacks the deck by counting non-voters in the Yes column. We need to work hard to generate a solid NO majority.
We will aim to win that vote. And even if our vote can be overridden by counting non-voters or the Treasury Department declaring that Central States is “too big to fail onto the PBGC” we will score a win, showing that the majority of the actives and retirees stand with the movement.
We will continue to build our movement, spread our campaign, organize and inform thousands of retirees, and win a just solution. This movement will continue to be the voice for Teamsters and for all Americans who have or deserve a pension.
We may have a cause for litigation, but we will not rely solely on that. We will rely on what has gotten us this far – grassroots organizing and smart alliance building.
This movement will continue until victory.