‘They Always Said, You Never Have to Worry About It, It’s Invested, Well, It’s Not’

Over the past few weeks, thousands of retirees who long forked over forced union dues and fees to the Teamster Union as a condition of employment have received letters from the Teamster boss-controlled Central States Pension Plan informing them that, barring a massive taxpayer bailout, it’s now almost inevitable that their pensions “will be drastically cut within the next year.”  (See the three recent news stories linked below for more information.)

This is an especially bitter pill to swallow for roughly 8700 retired United Parcel Service (UPS) workers. Back in 1997, recognizing that Central States was headed for disaster and wishing to “save money and provide retirees with better benefits,” UPS management asked Teamster union kingpins, who then wielded and today continue to wield monopoly-bargaining power over the company’s front-line employees, to let those employees out of the Central States operation and allow the company to put them in its own pension fund.

Despite the fact it would have helped UPS employees they purported to “represent,” then-Teamster czar Ron Carey and his cohorts vociferously opposed such a change. In fact, keeping front-line UPS workers in Central States became a key objective in the violent, nationwide Teamster strike against UPS launched by the union hierarchy in August 1997.

Thanks in part to union thugs’ successful use of threats and violence (including the notorious stabbing of former University of Miami football star and nonstriking UPS driver Rod Carter in Dade County, Fla.) to intimidate workers into staying off the job, UPS ultimately caved in and agreed not to set up its own pension fund for Teamster-controlled employees.

But by 2008, the condition of Central States had become so bad that Carey’s successor as Teamster czar, Jim Hoffa, finally agreed to let UPS employees get out of the plan in exchange for a $6.1 billion payoff from the company. Today, UPS drivers and other front-line employees who retired after the union hierarchy had at last permitted the company to move them to a company pension plan have retirement benefits that are soundly funded. But unfortunately, there are roughly 8700 UPS retirees who ended their careers prior to 2008.  Because the deal left them in Central States, today they face pension cuts of up to 50% or even more!

Reporter Adrienne Robbins, who works for the Fox News affiliate in Duluth, Minn., described the plight of members of Teamster Local 346 in her city in a report filed last week:

The retirees learned their pensions will be drastically cut within the next year. 

The pension fund is running out of money for a variety of reasons, aging workers, declining union rolls and poor returns from Wall Street. 

With that fund getting low, many Northland retirees are getting hit hard with cuts. 

In the coming year, teamsters members will see their pensions shrink, and with half of their income gone, some are now facing an unknown financial future. 

“We expected that money for all those, until we died you know? They always said you never have to worry about it, it’s invested, well it’s not,” said Stan Wolf, a retired UPS Driver. 

Not surprisingly, Hoffa and other Teamster bosses are trying to deflect the blame for what is happening to retirees like Stan Wolf. But the fact is, it is union officials’ job to ensure that the pensions of forced dues-paying workers are safe. And many UPS drivers like Wolf would not be facing massive pension cuts today if Ron Carey and Jim Hoffa, and other union officials had not forced their employer to wait more than a decade  before getting them out of the corrupt and failing Central States Pension Plan.

The Teamster pension catastrophe that continues to unfold this fall is a telling illustration of why union bosses don’t deserve any forced-dues privileges, and why Congress should enact a national Right to Work law.

Had union czar Jim Hoffa (right, shown with Democrat presidential hopeful and “Independent” U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders) or his predecessor Ron Carey only agreed to let UPS drivers out of the bankrupt Central States Pension fund a few years earlier, thousands of additional retired UPS drivers would still have safe pensions today. Image: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Pension Cuts Hit Northland Teamsters Union

Teamster Local 346 retirees hit with pension cuts

Why 8737 UPS retirees are bracing for pension cuts