December 3, 2014: Behind closed doors, a handful of Congressional representatives are planning to pass a major change to federal pension law, by making a last-minute amendment to the omnibus budget bill which Congress must pass by December 11 to avoid a shutdown. You need to take action now to stop this sneak attack.
Does that seem like the right way to consider the future of pensions for hundreds of thousands of Teamsters and millions of Americans?
We say No.
And we are not alone. The AARP, the Pension Rights Center and some unions such as the International Association of Machinists are working hard to head-off this deal, so that hearings will be held on a proposed bill to consider amendments, improvements, and alternatives to it.
We need Teamster president James Hoffa to use the political weight of the Teamsters Union to help stop this sneak attack. You can email your request that Hoffa to call upon all congressional reps and senators to say No to junking the anti-cutback rule of ERISA by a sneaky deal. Put the millions of Teamster dollars given to politicians to good use, right now.
One year ago, Hoffa sent a letter to Congress on this issue. But a year-old letter is not what’s needed. Now is the time to press the case, with all the clout the Teamsters Union can muster. Call on Hoffa to take action.
This proposal has nothing to do with the federal budget. It has everything to do with the future of workers’ hard-earned pensions.
Alex Adams, a retired Teamster out of Cleveland Local 407 speaks for thousands of other Teamsters facing these cuts:
“I’ve been retired for ten years after working for over 36 years moving freight across the country. In 1980, due to government deregulation, many companies went out of business in the freight industry. I worked for ten companies at one time (on call) to make sure I stayed active to receive contributions into the pension. I earned my pension the hard way as I have a clear memory of giving up many possible wage increases so that money could go towards benefits.”
Because the deal is being done secretly, we don’t have all the terms of the proposed pension change. But it will allow “deeply troubled” pension plans—including the Central States Pension Fund—to slash existing pensions and those already vested. Central States officials have said the cuts will be about 30%.
We recognize that Central States and some other funds are in trouble, but Teamsters and retirees deserve an open discussion of the terms of the law, and possible protective amendments to it, before Congress rushes it through.
Contact your Congressperson and Senators. Tell them making a sneaky deal is no way to respect their constituents. Retirees and hard working Teamsters deserve better.
For more information:
Here’s what’s really being missed in most snapshot explanations of Detroit’s bankruptcy: the unprecedented hit being taken by retirees who believed that, after working throughout their lives, they would be secure in their old age.
And Detroit sets a dangerous precedent. Your city’s retirees may be next in the crosshairs.
Click here to read more at Labor Notes.
November 18, 2014: Unless we act now, Congress may end up cutting a legislative deal by year’s-end to allow pension plan trustees to slash the already-earned benefits of retirees as a purported way of saving deeply-troubled multiemployer plans.
This would be a radical departure from the federal pension law and it would wipe out the anti-cutback rule which states unequivocally that once a retiree starts receiving a pension – it cannot be taken away unless a plan becomes insolvent.
It is outrageous for Congress to contemplate allowing cuts in retirees’ benefits as a way of staving off insolvency, without exploring other options to preserve hard-earned pensions.
We all care deeply about the health of our pension plans, but we do not think that they should be allowed to balance their books on the backs of retirees who are most vulnerable.
Say no to retiree benefit cuts. Tell Congress there are other alternatives that must be explored to save multiemployer plans.
Tell Congress no backroom deals.
You can help by contacting your Senators and Congressional Representative in your state and Congressional district. You can also contact their Washington office. The Capitol Hill switchboard is (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your representative.
Take Action. Have you signed the Protect Our Pensions petition yet? Click here.
October 24, 2014: The new Health Plan covering UPS Teamsters in the Southwest and New Jersey Local 177 is improving health benefits. Why won’t TeamCare?
Over the past two weeks, UPS Teamsters in most of the West and in New Jersey Local 177 got some good news in the mail: their health and welfare fund is improving benefits.
The modifications to the plan reduce emergency room co-pays, improve dental and optical coverage, and make other changes, effective September 1.
Members have been up in arms about the cuts in health coverage from day one, and that pressure finally won some improvements.
But what about TeamCare? It’s time for the Hoffa administration to deliver more than healthcare cuts.
She is more than 105 years old and still collecting pension benefits from the Teamsters Central States, Southeast & Southwest Conferences Pension Fund.
The Rosemont, Ill.-based Central States fund, which had $18.7 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, has been paying a pension to her for 41 years.
Click here to read more.
Teamster pension funds are paying the price for full-time job elimination.
September 25, 2014: More ground deliveries should mean more full-time jobs—and more participants in Teamster pension funds. But a review of pension data shows what’s happening is just the opposite. As ground volume has grown in recent years, the number of full-time jobs has fallen.
August 15, 2014: The Central States Pension Fund has given YRCW an extension until 2019 to repay $109 million that YRC owes the pension fund. This was revealed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission and in the 2014 First Quarter Report filed by the Independent Special Counsel on July 30.
That report, along with the Financial and Analytical Report obtained by TDU, indicates that the fund’s assets fell from $18.7 billion to $18.5 billion during the first quarter.
YRC has owed the $109 million to the fund since 2009, when it failed to make required payments, and has twice extended the deadline for making a balloon payment. The latest extension came by vote of the Central States union and management trustees in January, 2014. The trustees are reluctant to strain YRC’s weak finances. YRC makes interest payments of $550,000 per month.
While $109 million is small compared to the fund’s assets, it is still a very significant debt obligation to the troubled fund, as some YRC Teamsters and Central States retirees have already noted.
Central States lost $209 million in assets in the first quarter because the investment return of 1.7% could not keep up with pension payments.
Meanwhile, the Central States Health and Welfare Fund continues to run in the black and build up its outsized reserves. As its number of Teamster participants has more than doubled, with the addition of UPS part-time and full-time members, future reports will bear watching closely. Many UPS Teamsters recently put into the Central States Fund (TeamCare) are finding that certain benefits are falling short of promises made by the Hoffa-Hall administration.
Teamsters retirees from the trucking industry currently enjoy some of the most generous pensions in America—up to $3,500 a month for 30 years of service from any unionized trucking company that contributed to multiemployer pension plans that once covered the industry like a warm fuzzy financial security blanket.
But those pension plans, once thought to be the “Cadillac” of all retirement plans, are in deep financial trouble. And there doesn’t appear to be any bailout coming from Washington.
Click here to read more at Logistics Management.