U.S. Treasury hears pension concerns from Teamsters

Jan 15, 2016

Teamsters gathering Thursday evening before the US Treasury's public session at the Gateway Building in Peoria.. The sessions are happening in some of the 13 states covered by the Central States Pension Plan. The plan is asking permission to reduce pension payments promised to its retirees under the Kline Miller Act.
Credit Bernie Anderson

About 200 Teamsters turned out in Peoria to tell U-S Treasury Officials to rule against Central States Pension Plan’s request to reduce their benefit payments.

Central States is the first to make the request under the controversial Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014. The law reportedly passed by adding it to an omnibus bill. The Central States Pension Plan represents about 400,000 current and future retirees, mostly teamsters in 13 states.

Thomas Pelot is with Local 525. He retired last June after 43 years, serving the last 25 as the local’s business agent. He says Central States application has not satisfied at least four conditions of the Kline-Miller Law, including not being equitable to all members and failure to prove the reduction would ensure the plan’s solvency.

“Even though these cuts are implemented the fund claims it has little chance of remaining solvent. According to Central States Pension Fund, application funds are available to pay current obligations for at least 10 years. This allows time to come up with a plan that is fair and equitable,” Pelot says. “All parties should immediately begin to find a workable solution.”  

Some of Central State’s younger retirees could see 50 to 70 percent reductions in monthly pension payments if the benefit reduction request is approved.

Central States Pension Plan representatives were reportedly invited to the public session but were not represented at the event.

Ken Feinberg is responsible for the US Treasury’s implementation of the Kline-Miller law. He says he’s holding townhalls to hear from the people that would be impacted by the benefit reduction. “I can assure everybody in this room: Whatever we decide to do under the law it will only be done after we hear from the retirees.”   

Feinberg and treasury officials have additional public sessions next week in Indianapolis and Minneapolis. Events are also planned for St. Louis and Detroit next month. Feinberg is also hold conference calls on Mondays. Some of those calls are said to have 300 people participating. The call-in number and access code is on the Treasury’s website devoted to the Kline-Miller Act. People can also make written statements online.