April 13, 2015
Trustees of the financially strapped Teamsters Central States Pension Fund have decided to cut benefits for the more than 400,000 retirees it serves. “I don’t think anybody was happy,” Trevor Lawrence, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 638 said after a meeting Apr. 8 between trustees and union leaders in a Chicago suburb.
“But the people in the room understood if you don’t do something now, the cuts will be deeper later.” A federal law enacted last year lets multiemployer pension funds reduce benefits, which would normally be considered a guaranteed part of a contract. About 100 retirees protested outside, including Bob McNattin of Minnesota, a truck driver who contributed to the Central States Pension Fund for 30 years. “The problem is that this is being forced on us,” he said. “Why did this law have to be approved with no debate? I think it’s an outrage and a breach of the social contract.” The fund is planning to send a proposal listing the cuts to union members and the Treasury Department this summer. Both would have to approve it.