Court Rules Against Retiree Rights

September 15, 2005: The federal Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled on Sept. 8 against Teamster retirees who were fighting to broaden their right to work to supplement their Central States pension.

The appeals judges upheld a decision that favored the Central States Fund, which a few years ago started to crack down hard on retirees taking jobs at boat marinas, golf courses, family farms, auto repair shops, or hardware stores.

The trustees of the fund, including union chair Fred Gegare, admitted that their goal was to make it harder for Teamsters to use the early-retirement options that we all fought hard to win.

The case was backed by the Central States Pension Improvement Committee (CSPIC), the movement of Teamster members and retirees working for pension justice. The movement has already been successful in winning major changes to the reemployment rule, and now Central States retirees can work in all the fields mentioned above, and most others outside certain listed Teamster core industries.

CSPIC supporters across 25 states are proud of winning that victory, while angry about the anti-worker decision coming out of the court.

The lawsuit, filed by eight Teamsters and pursued by attorney Ann Curry Thompson, aimed to improve the rules and bring justice to Teamsters who have been wrongly penalized under the harsh old rules.

The Central States Trustees argued that the court should require the plaintiffs to pay their legal fees, but the judges shot that down. They ruled that the case raised important and legitimate issues.

The battle for pension justice continues. “We only won some of what we wanted on the reemployment rule,” said lead plaintiff Dick Herman. “But without organizing, we wouldn’t win anything. And we’re not going away until we reverse the pension and welfare cuts and get union trustees accountable to Teamsters and retirees.”

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