Thursday, December 9, 2010

This is what a pension is all about

Our sister Teamster, who goes by the blog handle Rural Route, wrote a tremendous post today at dailykos about the importance of a pension. It's definitely worth reading the whole thing, but here are a few choice observations:

First she described her neighbors in Florence, Minn., who don't have a pension:
Both are guys in their late 50s/early 60s, they worked hard all their lives and you can see it in their hobbled walk and limited range of motion. Neither works full time anymore as they try to scrape by on occasional work and disappearing unemployment insurance.
Then she describes a group of healthier, happier retirees who do have pensions after a lifetime spent loading and driving trucks delivering Wonder, Sara Lee, Earthgrains, Master, Taystee, Old Home, Emrichs, Hostess, Mickey and Egevist baked goods. They were getting together for a retiree luncheon:
...we have a lot of aches, pains, and worse from pushing, pulling, and lifting bakery products and milk for most of our adult life. At my table alone two of us in our 60s had already had joint replacements. And thanks to our union contracts, we can keep our health insurance when we retire, but it ain't cheap. And thanks again to our union contracts that kept us from having to sleep in the trucks we're clearly exceeding the 61 year life expectancy of over the road drivers...I saw several seven and eight decade old teamsters, and a brother who hired on in the 1950s stopped by our table to visit...Contrast that with the life expectancy of 55 for the largely non union over the road drivers who are members of the Owner Operators Independent Driver's Association.
Her conclusion:
Even modest pension benefits can greatly improve the lives of seniors- we may not be rich, but we're not drowning in poverty. And despite what the sleezy promoters of the 401K and IRA industries will tell you, the cost isn't that great- the current employer contribution to our pension plan is only $100 a week, that's at most $2.50 an hour. That $5200 a year investment for 30 years provides a $36,000 a year pension for life at as early as age 55.
 Read the whole thing here.