He Helped Pass Law Paving Way For Teamster Pension
Former Vice President Joe Biden, currently regarded as the
frontrunner for the 2020 Democrat Party presidential nomination, announced his
latest bid for the White House on April 29 in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Appearing before an enthusiastic crowd of Big Labor
operatives at a union hall owned by the hierarchy of Local 249 of the
International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), Mr. Biden declared, “I make no
apologies; I am a union man, period.”
Even as many union strategists cheer on the “union man” they
hope will oust pro-Right to Work President Donald Trump next year, roughly
17,000 rank-and-file IBT Local 249 retirees are bracing themselves for a
looming 30% cut in their pension benefits.
Joe Biden ‘Telephoned Democrats to Secure the Votes
Needed For Passage’
And managers of the Western Pennsylvania Teamsters and
Employers Benefit Fund are authorized to slash unionized retirees’ benefits
under a 2014 law that both Mr. Biden and then-President Barack Obama lobbied
hard to push through a lame-duck Congress.
As Pittsburgh City Paper staff writer Ryan Deto
explained in an April 30 news analysis, the so-called “Multi-Employer Pension
Reform” Act of 2014 (MPRA) allows benefit fund managers to reduce unionized
pensioners’ benefits, “to as little as $13,000 a year.”
Prior to the MPRA’s adoption, powerful union bosses lobbied
Congress for years to grant “multi-employer” pensions, private retirement funds
that are controlled by Big Labor in partnership with unionized companies, the
power to cut benefits sharply, without ever having to file for bankruptcy.
In 2013, national plumbers union boss William Hite and Tom
Nyhan, executive director of the Teamster Union’s Central States Southeast and
Southwest Areas Pension Fund, were among the most enthusiastic supporters of a
benefit-overhaul scheme permitting retiree benefits to be shredded.
And after the MPRA, which was based on the blueprint
endorsed by Mr. Hite and Mr. Nyhan, became part of a $1.1 trillion omnibus
budget measure, Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden both “telephoned Democrats to secure
the votes needed for passage of the package,” according to a contemporaneous
Associated Press report.
National Right to Work Committee Vice President Greg Mourad
“The Teamsters Central States and Western Pennsylvania
pensions and numerous other multi-employer plans are grossly underfunded
primarily for one reason: The
contributions going into these funds, in amounts determined through union monopoly
bargaining, were never sufficient to pay for the pensions that union bosses and
their agents told workers they would provide.”
Many Workers Who Now Face Steep Teamster Pension Cuts Aren’t
Mr. Mourad continued:
“Big Labor politicians like Joe Biden supported the MPRA
because they wanted irresponsible union bosses to be able to keep their pension
funds open and promise new benefits even as they closed their huge funding gaps
by cutting workers’ pensions by as much as 50%, or in some cases even more.
“As a consequence of this law, Teamster retirees in western
Pennsylvania may soon have to get by with $2,000 a month from the plan rather
than the $3,000 they were promised, according to a news story published by the
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this January.
“Now that Mr. Biden is running for President, he can be
expected to try to cover his tracks by endorsing a massive multiemployer
pension bailout that could ultimately cost taxpayers $600 billion or more.
“Since many of the workers who now face steep pension cuts
never even voluntarily joined the union whose officers are at fault for
benefit-fund mismanagement, legislation to help workers and families who have
counted on Big Labor-run pensions and now face grave financial hardship may be
“But it would be unforgivably reckless for Congress and any
president, current or future, to furnish such assistance without also holding
union bosses and any employers who colluded with them responsible for shorting
workers out of their contracted compensation.
“Unfortunately, based on his record during 36 years in the U.S. Senate and eight years as vice president, Joe Biden can be expected, if he wins the White House, to side again and again with union- boss special interests at the expense of ordinary workers, whether they are union members or union-free.”