Friday, December 18, 2015

Teamster retirees head to Congress to demand pension security

Teamsters met with an aide to House Speaker Ryan.
Teamster retirees from Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere met with representatives of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) today to voice their outrage over proposed Central States Pension Plan cuts.

Bob Amsden, a Local 200 retiree and a spokesman for Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions, said retirees are in crisis over the potential cuts, which run as high as 65 percent. After spending the morning at an IRS hearing on the matter, they headed to Capitol Hill this afternoon to let elected officials know their constituents need help from Congress.

Amsden, whose own pension is being cut by more than 55 percent, said:
It is the most immoral and painful set of reforms in the country. And many still don't know that it is coming.
Amsden said there are some 50 committees around the country set up to demand the federal government not adopt the cuts. People can learn more by going to

The Teamsters have made clear they are not satisfied with the proposal put forward by Central States. In a filing earlier this month with the Treasury Department, General President Jim Hoffa and Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall wrote that hundreds of thousands of retirees will been hurt if it is adopted:
In the final analysis, we do not believe that Central States can save itself through more intensive cuts or higher employer contributions. The reality is that Central States will become a "zombie" plan -- its funding ration will sink to 40% and its active worker population will decline by two-thirds. If the Federal government is truly concerned with the economic future of Central States' participants, it will find a way to provide direct financial support to the plan and its participants.
Hoffa and Hall are far from alone in their opposition. Nineteen House members have signed onto two separate letters sent to Special Master Kenneth Feinberg urging him to reject efforts to slash monthly pension payments by as much as 60 percent. One of those letters, signed by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) and 16 others, says doing so is a matter of fairness:
Simply put, America's workers are entitled to the pensions they've earned over a lifetime of hard work -- and the big corporations that fall into financial trouble or even declare bankruptcy should not be permitted to take those problems and failures out on employee pensions, especially while executives secure golden parachutes.
The federal government needs to listen to the feedback it is getting from retirees, Teamster leaders and elected officials and oppose the Central States' draconian proposal. Workers deserve better!