November 4, 2004: Round one in the fight to get the truth about the benefit cuts in the Central States Pension Fund goes to working and retired Teamsters. On October 21, federal judge James Moran ordered that the quarterly reports from the fund’s Special Counsel, including actuarial reports, be opened up to members.
The decision came in response to legal action filed in July by Teamsters Tommy Burke of North Carolina Local 391, Mike Brady of Toledo Local 20, and Brent Lindberg of Minnesota Local 638, who are represented by attorney Paul Alan Levy.
Tommy Burke, a leader of the Central States Pension Improvement Committee, explained the purpose behind the legal action. “We want our pension trustees to be accountable to members and retirees. We want to see the truth about the state of our pension fund, and what the trustees have been doing in the past few years. Most of all, we want the financial information that will let us hire an independent expert to review the situation, and report to all Teamsters and retirees. We hope this decision will let us do that.”
The pension movement’s goals are to restore pension benefits and retiree health care that have been slashed, and eliminate unfair restrictions that prevent retirees from working to supplement their pension.
Judge Moran, while granting the members’ motion, did not grant all of it. He ordered that quarterly reports from the fund’s Special Counsel dating from Aug. 5, 2003, and into the future, be made public. Teamsters may need earlier documents, however, to investigate what the Fund trustees were doing—or not doing —to safeguard the pension fund and protect pension benefits. That issue remains to be dealt with.
Judge Moran ordered that the documents be made public in the coming weeks.
It’s only round one. The Central States Trustees, on Nov. 5, requested the judge to limit what he makes available to the true owners of the Fund, while our movement fights for the opposite.
But it’s a great victory for Teamster members who want their Union Trustees and their pension fund to be accountable to the rightful owners—working and retired Teamsters.