In December 2014, Congress changed pension law by attaching the Pension Reform Act (PRA) to the must-pass 2015 omnibus spending bill as a rider. Doing so allowed the PRA to not be debated on the floor and spared House and Senate members from having to vote on an unpopular measure.
Currently, the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means is pursuing the reform of Social Security, using much the same rationale that was employed to cut benefits of private pension-plan participants — that if changes are not made, retirees face drastic cuts. The committee states: “Without action to address the fiscal and structural challenges facing Social Security, seniors will see a 23 percent cut to their benefits beginning in 2033. Action must be taken now to preserve the promise of Social Security for today’s beneficiaries and future generations.”
Click here to read more at the Star Tribune.
A new website reveals that Enron-billionaire John Arnold has spent up to $50 million of his own fortune to dismantle retirement plans for firefighters, nurses, teachers and other public employees.
The website – Truth About John Arnold – is sponsored by the National Public Pension Coalition (NPPC) andCalifornians for Retirement Security and traces the wide financial influence that one billionaire has on public pension fights. John Arnold amassed his fortune as an Enron trader, where he earned an $8 million bonus as the company’s collapse decimated $1.5 billion in public pension assets. Arnold turned his $8 million into billions as a Wall Street hedge fund manager.
Click here to read more.
March 31, 2015: Stop the rush to pension cuts will be the rallying cry when retirees and active Teamsters converge on Rosemont, to ask their local officers to Say No to Pension Cuts.
The Central States Pension Fund has summoned hundreds of Teamster officials to a meeting Wednesday, April 8, where pension fund director Thomas Nyhan will report on his plans regarding possible pension cuts for some 300,000 retired and active Teamsters.
The Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions has called for a rally to defend Teamster retirement security to commence at 11 am outside the Rosemont Convention Center. Active and retired Teamsters from Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and as far as Georgia will be traveling by bus, car, and van to meet up and be heard.
"Why are we being rushed to take cuts when Central States has had over two years to get this bill passed by Congress?”, commented Bob Amsden a retired Milwaukee Local 200 freight Teamster.
All concerned retirees, active Teamsters, and retiree advocates are invited to be there and lend support. We will take our case to all the union officers attending as well as the national media.
WHAT: Rally to Defend Our Pensions. No Rush to Pension Cuts without an Independent Audit.
WHEN: 11 am CDT, Wednesday April 8.
WHERE: The Rosemont Convention Center is located at 5555 N. River Rd. in Rosemont, Illinois.
FURTHER INFORMATION: Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions – Bob Amsden (414) 688 -5010. Northeast Ohio Committee to Protect Pensions – Mike Walden (330) 801-1108. Cincinnati Area – Tom Krekeler (513) 324-3574. St. Louis Area – Sue Cole (314) 550-6179. Central Ohio Committee to Protect Pensions – Whitlaw Wyatt (740) 606-4861. TDU – Pete Landon (313) 842-2600.
March 24, 2015: Over 200 active and retired Teamsters packed the Cincinnati Local 100 hall for the monthly Retirees Club meeting to hear speakers address the pending cuts to Central States pensions. Mike Walden, chair of the Northeast Ohio Committee to Protect Pensions, told a standing room only audience that it was time to organize to push back the attacks on retirement security.
That same day, 150 Teamster retirees met at the Columbus union hall and heard Greg Smith, an Akron Local 24 retiree, speak on the pension issue. Representatives from U.S. Senators Brown and Portman’s staffs were also present to hear retirees speak out on the importance of maintaining the pensions they rely on for their retirement. See the article covering the meeting in the Columbus Dispatch.
Tom Krekeler, a retired Local 114 Teamster and Secretary-Treasurer of the retirees club, said, “Out of this meeting, we’re organizing a pension committee. We need to get the word out to hundreds of members who know nothing about what’s coming. We got a number of volunteers to sign up to help out. Spouses are getting involved too. We need to let Central States know that we won’t accept cuts without a fight.”
A committee was also formed in Columbus to carry forward the struggle to protect pensions. On March 21, a conference call of 100 pension committee and activists, convened by TDU, got reports from some committees and from the staff of the Pension Rights Center in Washington DC, on where the grassroots campaign is headed.
The campaign is spreading throughout the Central and Southern regions, and beyond.
March 24, 2015: The Central States Pension Fund trustees have set up a briefing for local union officers on April 8. Will this be the big announcement regarding their proposed pension cuts – or a background briefing?
The announcement states only that they will “provide Local Union officers with background information on the MPRA [pension cut legislation], review the process and timetable…and outline a communication plan for our participants.” It goes on to state that the Board of Trustees [four Teamster officials and four management reps] are “currently reviewing options.”
We believe that review needs to be expanded.
The Fund has stepped up security at their building in Rosemont Illinois, and this announcement states that only pre-registered union officers will be allowed in the meeting, with “no walk-ins.”
We will provide more information as soon as it is available.
Teamster retirees and members are fighting back against cuts, and for better and more equitable solutions. If you think there should be an independent audit before any cuts are proposed, and that the process should be more equitable, then find out how you can be part of making it happen.
Since Whitley Wyatt retired in 2000 after 33 years as a trucker, he’s collected a pension of $3,300 a month.
Now, the 71-year-old says as much as $2,000 of his monthly check is at risk because of legislation passed by Congress last year that is meant to help underfunded multiemployer pension plans bolster their finances by giving them a way to cut benefits for some retirees.
Click here to read more at The Columbus Dispatch.
March 13, 2015: Bob Amsden, a retired Local 200 Teamster, isn’t sitting by while Central States ponders pension cuts. He got involved in forming the Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions and helped to organize a recent Milwaukee meeting that attracted over 60 retirees, spouses, and active Teamsters. Amsden recently spoke with a reporter from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The story ended up being a front page article.
Many active and retired Teamsters don’t know of the pending benefit cuts. You can help inform the thousands that may face cuts in the coming months. Contact local newspapers and reporters. Tell them the importance of this story. Write a letter to the editor. Use the local media to help spread the news.
March 3, 2015: The Central States Pension Fund and several smaller funds in the months to come may seek to cut the earned benefits of retirees and active Teamsters. Teamster members have a right to know what the procedures would be, so that we can be better armed to fight back.
A detailed outline of the procedure and timeline is available here for review by concerned members and retirees. This outline explains that the process cannot be immediate; the law provides time for review, for the publication of opposition statements, a vote by all participants (active and retired), and in the case of large funds at least 10,000 participants, the appointment of a retiree representative.
Teamsters are not sitting back and waiting for the hammer to come down – retirees and active Teamsters are organizing now to change the law that requires the full burden of the economic meltdown to fall on working and retired Teamsters.
Last weekend the Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions held their latest meeting, with a representative of the North East Ohio Committee to Protect Pensions on board to speak. The meeting received a strong statement of support from Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee. We are working to build a strong list of Congresspersons and Senators ready to make changes to the unjust law.
Could your pension fund move to cut benefits? This list indicates which pension funds could consider cuts. In addition to the Central States Fund, the list includes Western Pennsylvania Teamsters Fund and a large number of small funds in the New York - New Jersey area, especially locals in declining industries.
Whit Wyatt of Washington Court House worked as a teamster truck driver for 33 years. Now Whit and his wife Barb have a comfortable retirement living on Whit's teamster pension and social security.
But Wyatt is one of hundreds of thousands of union retirees who may soon see severe cuts to their monthly pension checks. “I've planned my life around my guaranteed pension and it just looks like that's going to be taken away," Wyatt said.
Click here to read more.
Bill Hendershot and his wife live on his union pension and Social Security. Hendershot, a retired Consolidated Freightways long-distance truck driver, gets around now in a 12-year-old Toyota Corolla. The couple still pay a mortgage on their home in Canal Fulton.
And he’s among a huge group of union retirees nationwide who could see their monthly private pension payments cut as much as 60 percent under a national reform measure signed into law in December by President Barack Obama.
Click here to read more.