December 5, 2006: When is an increase actually a cut? Teamsters in the Western Conference Fund are finding out the hard way.
Fund trustees voted to raise the pension multiplier. But a typical Teamster will lose $100 a month off of their pension check every year that the new multiplier is in effect. Trustees of the Teamsters Western Conference Fund voted to slightly increase the pension multiplier, the number that determines the amount of pension credit that Teamsters earn each year. But the good news ends there.
The new multiplier means Teamsters will continue to face a pension cut of nearly 40 percent when the fund is 100 percent funded.
Trustees to the Western Fund—including International Vice Presidents Al Hobart, Chuck Mack, Jim Santangelo and Randy Cammack—voted to raise the multiplier to 1.65 percent in October. They kept the vote secret until after the IBT election because they know that Teamster members will see this for what it is: a continuation of the pension cuts imposed in 2003.
The 2003 Pension Cuts
In 2003, Teamster trustees voted with employers to drastically slash the pension multiplier by more than half, to 1.2 percent, from 2.65 percent. Before those cuts, the multiplier was never once below 2.2 percent for Teamsters with 20 or more years in fund.
The 2003 pension cuts have already reduced the monthly pension of UPS and freight Teamsters by $500 a month. That’s a loss of $6,000 a year, over a whole retirement.
A typical Western Teamster is going to continue to lose another $100 off of their monthly pension check for every year this cut is in effect.
Even worse, the increase to 1.65 percent is just a bonus. The 1.65 rate will only be in effect until December 31, 2007. At that point, the multiplier will snap back to 1.2 percent unless the Teamster and employer trustees vote to extend the increase.
Fund Assets Up, Pensions Down
Top Teamster officials have promised members in the West that the cuts would be ended when the fund’s financial condition improved.
But even though the fund has completely bounced back from the stock market dip, members’ pensions have not. According to its own statement recently released, the Western Fund is 100 percent fully funded. There is no reason Teamster benefits cannot be restored right now.
It's obvious why the employers want to keep benefit levels as low as possible. But why are our Teamster trustees voting to continue pension cuts—at a fund that is 100 percent funded?
Hobart, Mack, Santangelo and Cammack all have multiple pensions and free health care for life. Do you think their golden parachutes might be one reason they're not fighting harder for the rest of us?