May 20, 2011: Thousands of YRC Teamsters have questions about the future of their benefits.
TDU consulted pension experts and attorneys to answer some of the most common questions.
“I thought my pension was guaranteed after I retire. How can the Central States Fund go back and cut the pensions of already-retired YRC Teamsters?”
Generally speaking, retired Teamsters are protected from pension cuts. But there are some big exceptions. The Central States Fund has a rule which provides for cutting the pensions of employees and recent retirees of companies which withdraw from the fund, and continue to operate.
It is this rule which Central States is using to cut YRC pensions. Other CSPF Teamster retirees, such as at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Waste Management in Milwaukee, and various other companies have suffered the same fate, after corporations busted out of the pension fund and stuck Teamsters into a 401(k) or company plan. The Central States Trustees applied this rule to YRC Teamsters.
“Can the Central States Fund go back further and cut other retirees’ pensions?”
Pension funds in the “red zone” can legally cut pensions under certain circumstances, affecting those who retired after the date that the fund first informed members that they are in the “red zone.” CSPF has not done this. Also, CSPF has a rule which says if they do make such cuts, they will only affect retirees who have not yet received their 13th monthly check.
“Can YRC Teamsters file a class-action lawsuit to get our pensions back?”
The Teamster Rank and File Education and Legal Defense Foundation (TRF), affiliated with TDU, is the members’ watchdog and legal network for protection against illegal cuts. At this time we have not found a basis for such a suit.
We do encourage those YRC Teamsters who retired after September 24, 2010, and had their pensions cut to consider appealing the decision through the pension fund’s appeals process. The Trustees have the power to give some relief to these long-time Teamsters who voted for concessions as the Hoffa administration recommended. We understand that 350 already-retired Teamsters were hit by the April announcement of cuts.
“What will it take to restore benefits?”
We need to rebuild Teamster power in trucking, and the pension fund along with it. Anyone who says it cannot happen is giving up on the Teamsters Union. We need to organize in freight and trucking, and bring new companies into our pension funds. We need to bring UPS Freight into our top pension bracket. We need to rebuild the National Master Freight Agreement. It can be done, because trucking and distribution are growth industries which cannot be exported overseas.
It’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s not going to happen without a new leadership and new program in the Teamsters Union. It will take Teamsters rolling up their sleeves to make it happen. The time to start is now.