Pension Cuts Bill May Move Soon

April 2, 2014: Legislation is expected to be introduced soon that would allow the Teamster Central States Plan and other “deeply troubled” pension plans to slash pensions.

This makes the fight-back to stop this legislation and push for more positive alternatives all the more urgent.

As TDU has reported over the past year, the National Coordinating Committee for Multi-Employer Plans (NCCMP) has been lobbying both the House and Senate for a bill that would revoke the anti-cutback language in pension law.

The bill is currently being drafted by Republicans on the House Education and Workforce Committee. Because of the Congressional elections this fall, it will either move forward soon or likely be delayed until next year.

The NCCMP includes employers like UPS and ABF, pension funds like the Central States, unions like the Teamsters, and other affiliates. The Central States Pension Fund has become the poster child for funds in “troubled status” and is the main focus for the proposed changes. Tom Nyhan, executive director of the Central States, testifying last October, called on Congress to allow Fund Trustees to be able to make cuts on pensions for those already retired as well as reductions in benefits for those Teamsters still working. Currently, pension law protects retirees and active participants from any cut in already accrued benefits.

Concerned Teamsters are organizing opposition to the proposed NCCMP changes.
In northeastern Ohio, a meeting of over 120 initiated a Pension Action Committee to spread the word in Akron Locals 24 and 348, Cleveland Locals 407 and 507, Canton Local 92 and Mansfield Local 40. In St. Paul, Minnesota a similar meeting of over 80 decided to continue the work initiated by the meeting organizing committee. They formed a group consisting of Teamsters from Locals 120, 638 and 1145 to make plans to visit retiree groups, local membership meetings and area congressional offices.

Bob McNattin, a Minnesota Local 120 retiree said, “We were made promises and are owed the same considerations and protections that Congress gave the bankers when they faced their meltdown in 2008. TARP money was found to save their skins. Now those same bankers can help Central States make good on the pensions we earned.”

TDU is in this battle along with the AARP,  the Pension Rights Center, the International Association of Machinists, Steelworkers, and others—now including the Teamsters International. We all are calling for the continued protection of those already retired and have raised positive alternatives to slashing retiree benefits.

We will ally with all Americans who care about the future of pensions in this country, for private sector and public sector workers. It’s time for federal government to defend the
people who gave a lifetime of honest work and earned a pension, rather than Wall Street bankers.

If you are ready to organize in your area or want to learn more about the campaign to defend Teamster pensions, contact TDU.

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