Pension Bills on Congress' Agenda

April 2, 2010: Pension legislation that could help Teamsters, or hurt us, has been proposed in both the House and Senate.

The time is now for our union to get into high gear on this issue, including mobilizing our members and retirees.

Take Action to Protect Teamster Pensions

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On March 22, Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa) announced the introduction of Senate Bill 3157, and he did so at the big YRC terminal near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. YRC and the Teamsters Union are central players in this issue.

Senator Casey’s bill is similar to the bill, H.R. 3936, in the U.S. House sponsored by Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio). It would allow seriously troubled multi-employer pension plans to be partitioned: responsibility for pension credits derived from bankrupt or closed companies would be transferred to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which would have to be adequately funded.

This plan could strengthen pension plans covering some 10 million Americans, and set up a more equitable system. And while it would cost federal money, Senator Casey was right when he said that it’s “a bargain compared to what could happen if we let some of these multi-employer plans get in greater jeopardy than they are right now.”

Securing the hard-earned pensions of millions of American workers and retirees is in the national interest.

Full Protection for Retirees a Must

But there is a problem: Casey’s bill and others may not provide full protection of benefits for Teamsters with so-called “orphan” credits. It protects full “nonforfeitable” benefits at normal retirement age (65), but there may be some ambiguity in the bill about full protection of 30-and-out or other early retirement benefits. Many Teamster retirees rely on early retirement benefits.

The time is now to correct any defects in any bill (and there will be amendments and other bills), so that we can fully support it and help get it passed, to strengthen our pension plans.

We cannot let our members and retirees be divided, with some of our members treated as second-class retirees.

Our job is to get a pension bill that not only helps our pension funds, but protects 100 percent of the pension credits earned by Teamsters and other workers.

Teamster Action Plan Needed

The Hoffa administration has delivered the worst pension cuts in Teamster history. Now they have a chance to take positive action to protect our pensions.

There are plenty of corporations—and politicians—who are willing to see workers’ pensions collapse. Most corporations provide no pension at all. They say everyone should retire with an IRA or 401(k) savings plan.

The anti-pension forces will oppose the Casey bill in the Senate and similar bills in the House.

We can beat the corporate lobbyists, but only if politicians see that working Americans care about pension reform—and care enough to take action. Our union needs to get into high gear on this issue.

Ask yourself how many Teamsters and retirees you know that are concerned about this issue. Now ask yourself how many of them have been asked by our union to do something about it.

We’ve worked all our lives to earn our pensions. It’s time to take a stand.

That means more than press releases from Hoffa. Talking isn’t enough this time.

Our union needs to mobilize Teamster power behind an action plan to win real pension reform.

Teamster members and retirees need to be ready to answer the call.

What do you think? Click here to send your comments to Teamsters for a Democratic Union.

Do your part. Click here to take action today to protect Teamster pensions.

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