Apples and Oranges, Or Just Rotten Apples?

Teamster members have pressed hard but never gotten a satisfactory answer to one question: why has the Central States fund cut so deeply when other Teamster funds continue to provide superior benefits?

“Apples and oranges” fund and IBT representatives claim, yet they have refused to state exactly what differences exist. And they have refused to provide the information needed to conduct an independent actuarial study of the fund.

Working with a pension fund specialist, the Central States Pension Improvement Committee (CSPIC) has assembled a factual comparison showing that the Central States claims are false.

This study was compiled with help from Professor Teresa Ghilarducci of Notre Dame University. Dr. Ghilarducci is an economist who specializes in pension research. She testified earlier this year before Congress regarding pension legislation. 

An analytical grid was assembled comparing six large Teamster pension funds on a number of factors. It indicates that, contrary to the propaganda from the Central States Trustees, that fund falls pretty much in line with other major funds. Yet Central States has made drastic cuts and now locked them in place for years to come.

The pension funds compared are: the Chicago Local 705 Fund, the New England Fund, the Upstate New York Fund, Western Conference Fund, the Virginia Fund, and the Central States Fund.

Consider two important factors that Central States propaganda often refers to.  
First, the ratio of active workers to retirees. Research shows that the ratio of beneficiaries to actives for four of the funds is 1.6 or 1.7.  Central States does not have an unfavorable ratio compared to these funds; in fact, it has a better ratio than the Virginia Fund, which pays superior benefits.

This 1.6 ratio is not the same as the ratio of retirees to active Teamsters, because it includes anyone who could conceivably be entitled to any pay-out, even a former Teamster with just five years credit. The ratio of retirees to active Teamsters is actually 1.3.

The funding ratio is another factor referred to by Central States. Five of the funds are in the range of 51 percent to 75 percent funded, with Central States falling in the middle at 60 percent. A fund does not have to be fully 100 percent funded in order to be healthy. Funds that are at or below the Central States ratio have not cut benefits or not cut them so deeply.

Overall, the comparison grid shows that Central States is not so very different from other Teamster pension funds. They have the same employers, the same demographics, the same ratio of retirees, and a similar funding ratio.

The Central States Trustees (and IBT officials) have taken a differentposture, making the most terrible cuts in pension accruals and medical coverage, and eliminating 25- and 30-and-out for the future.

They need to be held accountable for their actions and for their lies. They should make available valuation and other information needed to do a full independent audit of the fund.

Note: If you would like a copy of the analytical comparison grid, contact TDU. We will attempt to update it as the latest 5500 reports become available.

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