We're hearing from people around the country who are worried about cuts to their pensions. These are their stories. Would you like to share your story? Add it to our story bank.
Age: 56, Newark, California
I retired from the automotive industry in 2013 after 32 years as a mechanic. My other coworkers and I were told, at the time of our retirement, our pensions would be for life. The possibility of a deduction was never mentioned. Now, not only is my pension being threatened, but I cannot work in the only industry I've known. The possibility of cutting my pension by 69% would drop my monthly income to just around $1,500/month which would drop me below the poverty line.
Age: 67, Connecticut
My husband and I were married for many years and had several children. Unfortunately, our children experienced various illnesses, so I had to take time off of work. His career flourished as a police detective, while I often had to stay home with the kids. He left us and remarried several years before he died.
I did not know how pensions worked. I did not realize that I could not have access to his pension funds. I only had meager earnings so little that made me eligible for public programs; I eventually applied for social security (which I do not want). The second wife died several years after him, but our family still cannot access the father's funds. The funds, which I would have been entitled to if he had not worked for a municipality and had taken social security deductions, are now lost forever.
This is a lesson for all first wives, especially those with disabled children: see a lawyer before the husband, or ex-husband dies, to ensure the second spouse does not leave you with nothing.
Also, talk to your congress men and woman, governors, legislators, etc. to tell them that this travesty must end. They must know that it is unfair to the first spouse and the children to lose everything if the man decides to remarry. Many women are left unaware and with no access to a pension, unless he is "generous" and "compassionate" enough to think of his first wife and children.
Age:74, South Amboy, NJ
The union asked me to cut 45% of my pension after 40 years of driving a truck. I thought I would have a good pension to live on, but they stopped putting new explorers in. They have also talked members into voting out of it, and going in to annuities. Where does that leave us? It leaves us with bills that we cannot pay and buy our medicine. The fund will go broke any way even with cuts, so why should we suffer twice? Something should be done. If banks can be bailed out then our pensions can be saved too.
Age: 57, Latrobe, PA
This is my mother’s story…My father passed away in 1972, and my mother was told at age 60 she could collect her pension from Kennamental. Well, as her daughter, I went to Kennamental and applied for his pension, but she was denied. They had no record of an Edward working at the facility! To this day, I cannot get any help from this company, even though my mother gets spousal benefits from social security. I want to know: how do I get hard concrete evidence to prove he had worked there? I am still fighting after 30 years.
Age: 66, Buffalo, NY
I received a letter from the New York State Pension/Retirement fund stating that there would be cuts to my pension. I read it to our retiree representative, Tom Baum, and he saw the cuts as a done deal. Where’s his backbone? He should fight for us, instead of snuggling up to those who could care less if we survive.
These cuts will affect my family greatly. My health care costs alone are rising every year. Food, utilities, and taxes continue to go up and up. We don’t need to have any monies taken from us when we worked darn hard for it.
There has to other solutions, because across the board cuts are not the answer. The biggest joke in this whole thing is that our vote means nothing. If 100% vote no, our representatives will say, “Oh, well it goes through anyway”. We are up against wall, so we all need to send a message to Washington, the Treasury Department, and our representatives. We need a stronger representative than Tom Baum who is nothing more than a smoke screen for UPS and the NYSTP/RF.
Age: 58, Baldwinsville, NY
My husband retired from UPS after 32 years of hard work. He endured it that long as he knew that he would get a fair pension if he stuck it out. There were several contracts where an increase in a pension contribution was taken in lieu of a raise. We have been told that on August 23, notices will be sent and we will see a reduction in our pension of 40%. (We won't know for sure about the percent until we receive our notice).
This will be devastating to us! We still live in our starter home (after refinancing twice to help our boys with college. We still are making mortgage payments. For us, this is not about a second home, vacation, or giving up a luxury, this is about being able to pay our monthly bills. We do not feel it is fair to victimize retirees who have EARNED this benefit!
I realize there many factors that have put our plan in trouble, and these factors need to be addressed. But to cut retirees benefits? Up until 2 years ago, it was illegal. Something smells very rotten here!
Please help us keep our pensions so we are not thrown in to poverty.
Age: 63, Trotwood, OH
: I worked for Delphi Automotive when my job was outsourced to India. I took a job with Inteva Products, LLC that had a Contribution of Benefits agreement (COB) with Delphi. Under the COB my years of service from Delphi would continue while employed with Inteva. When Delphi filed for bankruptcy on 7/31/2009 I was 56 years old and had accumulated enough years plus age to qualify for retirement under a program called 85 points. I inquired with the PBGC about pension eligibility and was told that I would be eligible at age 65 or early unreduced benefits if 1) at age 60 years with 10 years of service, 2) 30 years of service or 3) at age 55 where years of service and age equals 85. I applied and began drawing a pension from the PBGC in 2010 while continuing to work at Inteva. I was informed in 2015 that my pension would be suspended until I quit Inteva or reached age 65 because I was not eligible for an early retirement under the COB agreement. I was also told that the pension that I received for five years would have to be repaid as a reduction to any future pension payments. I have still not been told what that reduced amount will be making it nearly impossible to plan for retirement. Under the Delphi bankruptcy the "Old Delphi" ceased to exist and the "New Delphi" emerged yet I am still bound by an agreement with the "Old Delphi". Delphi having breached its responsibility to its employees by turning over its pension to the PBGC in my opinion also forfeits any rights to bind its former employees to a COB agreement that no longer benefits the employee. Furthermore employees working for the "New Delphi" are eligible to draw early retirement pension from the PBGC. This only strengthens my argument that the COB should no longer be binding.
Age: 74, Atwater, OH
To begin all the money that was put into our retirement was taken from our pay,each hour we worked,every day, every year.The reason our pension failed is because government rules and regulations. We were forced to pay out more money or be fined. We were not able to add money because we were over funded,on and on.
I want our pensions tied in with our do nothing congrees and this can be voted in by sneaking anything in the spending bill. I am fed up with these people destroying every thing this country stands for.
I was a mason all of my life and worked every hour in all kinds of weather so I could have a decent life in my later years.We paid our insurance to protect our pensions and they do not even fund it and if you need it you get pennies on the dollar,I want their pensions to be the same as ours,we get cut, they get cut.
I would like to see our old people and veterans treated the way they should be treated. Our congress and senate lives off the taxes just like our welfare system and it never runs out of money. These our my thoughts, I want to see if this gets printed.
Age: 67, Murfreesboro, TN
I retired from Swedish Match North America, Richmond, VA. I retired at age 59 and SMNA managed the retirement fund until about 6 months before I turned 62 and was eligible for Social Security. Northern Trust took over the management of retirement account. When I turned 62, Northern Trust continued to pay me the bridge money that made the difference for social security for 21 or 22 months . That payment was direct deposit and I frankly did not realize it was being paid, Northern Trust contacted me after the 20 odd months and told me I had to repay the amount (over $21,000) to continue to receive my meager $385 or so retirement. I offered to return to work until the amount was repaid.
Northern Trust stopped all payments saying it was permanent.I feel that Northern Trust mismanaged my account and my retirement payments should be restored, and that they should possibly be fined for this mismanagement.
Age: 66, Huntsville, TX
I worked for Western Union from 1969 -1983. I found out in 2015 that I had a vested pension benefit from the WU Pension Plan ("the Plan"). I still haven't received a penny from them and I will be 67 on July 18. I have been going back and forward with them with with no relief. They had no record of me being employed with them, so I had to pay the Social Security Administration $136.00, which they never reimbursed me as stated in their letter. To make a long story short, as of to date, I have received nothing from them except a copy of a letter the sent to the IRS with the subject "An application will be made to the Internal Revenue Service for an advance determination of the qualification of my pension benefit plan". I can't understand why a company can be so petty, but this is my story. I have emailed them back to back with no results and I earnestly don't know where to go or who to call. I guess they are waiting for me to die, so they can keep the change in their pocket.
Age: 67, Buffalo, NY
Working for 31.5 years as a Teamster was a hard life but I always knew that my pension and the Teamsters would support me in retirement. The situation is very sad. I look around at my home and know with a reduced pension we will have to sell. I didn't want to retire in 2001. The Union urged me to retire because of the amount of years I had in. This has been devastating to my health and mental outlook, as I am sure it has had the same on the many retirees. I feel betrayed. I feel so abandoned. As long as I have the funds I will continue to contribute to the Pension Rights Center. You are so amazing with all of your passion for our cause. Thank you!
Age: 61, Darien Center, New York
I worked hard at UPS for 31 years. I put up with mental anguish while my body took a physical beating from the tough standards that UPS demanded from it's workers. I get arthritic pain in my hands and legs at times and must see a chiropractor routinely to adjust my back, neck and shoulders. The thing that kept me going all of those years was that I would be able to retire with a good pension and enjoy my later years. My wife doesn't have a pension and I worry about what her life would be like if I happen to die before she does.
Age: 58, Buffalo, New York
I've been a retired NYST for 8 years. I worked for UPS for 30 years and in those 30 years I took numerous cuts in my pay and benefits to supplement the Pension Plan, so when the time came to retire I could do so without having to worry about my financial picture as I grew older. I wasn't retired 2 months and I had to start paying for my Health Insurance, which was suppose to be covered for 15 years.
My wife and I have raised our 4 children in Buffalo & all have graduated from colleges in NYS. Our daughter, son in law, and 4 grandchildren have just moved back to Buffalo from Arizona after being there for 7 years. With cuts to my Pension we won't be able to "spoil" them the way we had planned!!!
SOMEONE- SOMEWHERE HAS TO STEP IN & HELP INSURE THAT THERE ARE NO!!!! CUTS OF ANY KIND TO OUR PENSION!!!!!! WE WORKED TOO LONG & TOO HARD FOR THIS TRAVESTY TOTAKE PLACE!!!!
Age: 63 M Vermont, New York
I started working in nursing in 1981 to 1983 as an LPN, under the contract of 1999 union, then to another company from 1983 to 1986. I then returned to upgrading for my RN and from 1987 to 1989 I worked for another institution under the contract 144 union. After a year of working at that place, 144 had merged with 1199 union. When I contacted 1199 in 2014 they only found one year of employment so therefore I am not eligible for any pension.
Age: 78, New York, New York
My pension was slashed last year with promises of more to come in July.
Mine is the same sad story, BUT it doesn't have to be that way! These stories are ours and they are heartbreaking.
Nonetheless, this is an ELECTION YEAR, and the politics that are causing everyone to lose their pensions should be highlighted. Take your stories and share them! Ask your friends and relatives to SHARE them. Most people in America (other than Teamsters) are NOT 'unconcerned' - most of them are HORRIFIED. But they don't see what is happening to us. We have to CHANGE THAT.
Post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn...every social media site that you can. ALL OF US. Share your stories with the PUBLIC - not just with each other!
I guarantee you the public has only heard Central States has saved its local from cuts. WHAT ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE? New England Motor Freight? Western? All the REST? We need to TELL THE PUBLIC what has happened to us. SO I'm sharing my story gets spread far and wide this election year. Also in CA, Representatives Kline and Miller, D-CA, wrote the law that is stripping us of our pension. THEY NEED TO BE PRIMARIE'D by the Democratic Party. These are NOT the kind of Democrats that we need in our party.
Age: 79, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
I worked for 33 years at Lowell Shoes Co. in Isabela, PR and then I moved to Boston, Massachusetts. When I moved they did not give me my compensation for all of the year that I worked and left me on the street.
Age: 56, Buffalo, New York
I began my career at UPS in 1980 and retired in 2010 after 30 years of back breaking, body destroying work. I have numerous medical conditions that are directly related to my employment including 3 bulging discs in lower back, chronic shoulder pain, and a condition called Pudendal Neuralgia thats affects my bowels and my bladder. I cannot work because of these conditions as i'm in constant pain.I tried for SSDI but was denied. To suspend my earned benefit would put me into incredible financial hardship. I can't sleep at night because of the anxiety this is causing me and my family.
I also can't believe that the legislation that put this in motion was slipped into a must pass bill in the middle of the night. It amazes me how congress is fighting for the middle class yet continues to do things like this that hurts us. Why was there no discussion about finding solutions instead of just chopping us off at the knees? I paid my dues, filled my obligation and was guaranteed an income. How can the banks get bailed out when their actions led to this and we don't even get a look. This is the definition of unjust, screw the little guy just make sure you get him to vote for you. What a joke.
Age: 54, Goleta, California
I was laid off from a grocery store that was part of the retail clerks union here in California two years ago with only two years left before I was able to collect my full pension. I applied with three other union stores and was not even given an interview. I have over 32 years with union, and now I have to wait until I'm 65 years old before I can collect my pension. Do I have any type of recourse to receive my retirement ?
Age: 50, Uniontown, Ohio
I just attened a bricklayers pension rescue plan meeting. The plan is broken down to a 49% no cut at all, 18% at 10% or less, 8% at less than 30% and finally 25% at 30.1% or more. My case, because of my 41 years of contributions and age, will get hit the hardest at 61% cut. It will go up for vote amongst all members that are active and retired. A blank vote or non-returned ballot is a yes vote for the plan. I cannot go back to my craft because my body is too worn out to do it anymore. I am really having a hard time seeing this fair. Like a few of us taking care of the rest, how could this plan not pass with the majority of it not being overly affected? I feel singled out with my whole career negotiating pension promises down the drain. Taking a $2250 a month cut is going to destroy us.
Age: 50. Owensboro, Kentucky
Well, as you can see by my age I am not yet retired, but I have been on the Teamsters union for 20 years now. I can certaintly see how this list of people who paid their share and then some into this fund are frustrated and I'm going to try and explain where it all went wrong. Let's go back to the 2009 bank bailouts. Teamster entrusted Goldman Sachs with our pension plan who in turn invested in the stock market which we all know got decimated. With Obama bailing out banks that were too big to deal, that are now even bigger and doing the same thing now as then, banks no longer pay interest, so what little is left in the fund cannot grow. Basically the banks win and we all loose. That is about as simple as I can write it. It is a shame we live in the greatest country of the world and we still cannot support our own retired community. There is a solution, you or I should not be the ones suffering from their carelessness.
Age: 43, Wichita, Kansas
I am really confused. I have been with the same employer since 1996. In 2008 or 2009 they decided to change the reitrement plan to a defined benefit plan due to changes in law, they said. They defined the group that would continue to receive benefit with criteria (had 15 years of service and retire before 2023). At that time, I have 12-13 years of service. Therefore, i was not "eligible". They started putting $1,000 per year into a 401(k) at that time. Now, I am realizing that I did not get any benefit for 13 years due to this change. Is this legal for them to do that? I have received the defined benefit since the change but they say they are not required to provide anything for the first 13 years even though some of my co-workers that were "eligible" for the old plan recieve monthly benefits. Can this be legal?
Age: 62, Hawthorne, New York
After nearly 20 years working for Texaco Incorporated, under what was called the Change of Control Agreement with Chevron, I was able to get a lifetime annunity amount under the Qualified Retirement Plan-Individual Life Annunity versus the other option which was to request an estimated lump sum value at a lesser amount that was subjected to taxes at the early age or wait until 55 years old. I decided to request a monthly lifetime annuity pension benefit check and chose to get a higher amount if i did not designate a survivor. As it turns out, once I turned 62 years old, the Plan Administrator decides to cut this amount $1,500 a year saying it has to do with Social Security benefits which I am not entitled to until my retirement age of 66 years old. One thing shouldn't has to with the other and they have not been able to explain it any better nor provide me with documentation or any legal assitance.
I wanted to thank your organization for all the help you have given in getting the Treasury Department to reject the plan to cut my Teamster pension in half. I know the fight is not over yet, but I would appreciated any help you all give for the future in helping fighting to keep our pensions.
Age: 67, Neponset, Illinois
I retired under a binding contract. That means contracts where law protected us employees against fraud of any form. I did my part, I put in the time and the dues in to have a good pension. Why even have laws if lawyers and politicians can bypass contracts to get what they want? It was not my miss handling of the funds of our pension but yet I was threatened to cut 54% of my pension. Then knowing that down the road, chances are that pensions will collapse anway. What is going on now is plain corruption at its highest level.
Age: 60, Green Bay, Wisconsin
I worked every shift around the clock, gave up pay increases, holidays with my family and missed several family events that I could justify by knowing I would be rewarded with my pension in retirement. Now the thieves have mismanaged our hard earned money and we have to pay the price. I bet not one of them will be taking any pay cuts or make any concessions like we will. Why have they not been accountable to a full blown audit to see where our money went? When I did the math on the amount I actually contributed and allowed for up and down markets. My investments flat lined. Yes, I had no earnings. I am tired of hearing about how many baby boomers are drawing pensions. Wait a minute...what about all the years the baby boomers were contributing? Where did THAT money go? The law of average always applies. That is why I know our money was stolen. People need to be held accountable. What about a bail out for the hard working men and women? They are just as important as the bankers and car manufacturers.
Age: 69, Lees Summit, Missouri
After finding out our pensions will be cut by 50%, our medical insurance went up and our house payment went up due to a house tax increase. Our electric bill went up, our water bill was raised, and our car insurace went up. To top it all off, our house is also not worth what we paid for it 12 years ago. Now we are expected to live on $15,000 LESS EACH YEAR. 40 years of driving a truck and NO, I CANNOT GET A JOB.
Age: 75 Spicer, Minnesota
WHY, why am I getting cut from $3100 a month to less than $1400 a month? I’m 75 and was told my cut would be between 20% and 30%. I got an e-mail saying they are looking at a class action law suit, I said count me in. I worked for UPS and had 33 years in the teamsters and NEVER GOT CREDIT FOR THE FIRST 2 YEARS WITH A DIFERENT CO. (Parson Electric from Mpls,Mn). I'm getting robbed again. What gives? I was told I would lose my insurance if I went to work after I retired local. I was told by the many doctors I had seen, trying to get relief, that if I never quit UPS and got a job off my feet that I would be in a wheel chair in 3 to 5 years because of peripheral neuropathy in legs and hands. Since 1994 I missed about 9 months in the last 2 1/2 years I worked. I had a good retirement plan so I just retired. I’m getting punished now for being a good guy and not going after UPS for a medical discharge and I sure could have. Now that my health is bad, after heart bypass, I can't hardly walk and losing feeling in my hands, and can't work, Now I'm getting screwed bad. My medicine put me in the donut hole last year and is not getting cheaper. I remodeled my home 7 years ago on 15 year mortgage, got a new van in 2015 with all the letters from you people saying I would not be cut after hitting 65 years old. With all my medicine we got behind on credit cards. Wish you would have given us a few years and then make smaller cuts at first. I just wish you people cared.
Joseph St. J.
Age: 63, Hagaman, New York
The New York State Pension fund has had returns of 9% every year yet cut benefits twice for a great amount. Now they want our actual pension. Remember, most retired Teamsters lose their health, life, and disability insurance at retirement. There are also no costs of living adjustments. They will not sacrifice anything themselves, only the retirees.
Age: 62, Bayamon, Puerto Rico
I have been working for a Catholic School for 36 years as a teacher. On March 17th, 2016 all the teachers received a letter from the San Juan Archdiocese that effective June 1st, 2016 our pension plan will terminate. In February 2, 2016 the pension plan certified that I would receive $925.00 monthly beginning September 1, 2016. It has been a devastating blow to Catholic school teachers who had counted on those pensions to supplement the Social Security checks they'll be getting. We never knew that the pension plan could be terminated. We do not have a copy of the plan. The pension was part of our contract with the school. With this, I would have to work the rest of my life. The letter I received, the officials signed off with "God bless you all". The Bishop, Roberto Gonzalez, said that the church does not have money, really?
Age: 44, Ekurhuleni, Tennesse
I worked for a pharmaceutical company for 12 years. The employer did not contribute any amount of money towards our pension fund. What are the rules governing the contribution and deduction of a pension fund? If there are any, what is our recourse regarding the subject under study? This is indeed frustrating and confusing because I cannot even begin to plan my future.
Age: 63, St. Petersburg, Florida
It says: "Under MPRA, the PBGC must propose funding by June 1 to Congress that would permit it to preserve multiemployer plans." The 2017 budget proposes to solve the problem by raising $15 billion in higher premiums for multiemployer plans and by giving PBGC the power to set rates without congressional approval. As an editor on Teamsters Pension crisis page and I have the FL Tampa page I comment on a number of articles, but I wanted to bring this to your attention. It would be a mistake giving the PBGC the power to set rates. This article doesn't say over what time period the $15 billion would have to be raised, but according to the MPRA, the PBGC is to have 10 and 20 year projections, but in their FY 2015 report they said they would be solvent through 2025 and thus had no 20 year projection. KOPPA is said to raise $18 billion over the next 10 years through closing 2 top end tax loopholes ("like kind" exchanges over $1 million). A $200 increase in premiums would generate $20 billion over that same period. Although the PBGC needs funding it would be a mistake giving the PBGC the power to set rates without congressional approval.
Josh Gotbaum, mentioned in Richards comment as a regular at NCCMP events, also had a stake in passing the MPRA to cut the retirees to save the PBGC that he previously headed to cover the mismanagement of his tracks. He also testified at the Senate Finance Committee hearing on March 1st, 2016. It's just a shame that someone with his education and degrees could sell their soul to the NCCMP. The single PBGC fund pays out 55 times more in claims than the Multi fund. The single fund has 47 times the assets, but at the Senate hearing it was stated the average single premium which includes VPR's too, but insurance up to $60K for single fund participants was $140 and the Multi premium was $26 for the max guarantee of $12,870 per year. Three times the participants and six times the rates and somehow not twenty times the assets, but forty-seven times. The PBGC needs oversight and investigation. In the PBGC FY 2015 Report, they continue to be reported, (passed 7 years on record) of having significant deficiency in lack of controls over premium process, manual processes, and monitoring controls over non-commingled assets by the independent auditor CliftonLarsonAllen. It would seem that multi fund premiums were going to the greatest need.
Age: 66, Lees Summit Missouri
I feel that there are a lot of retirees whom feel this is going to solve the problem. This is far from over, and it's a scary situation. I worked for over 41 years and I paid the price, it cost me time with my family, which I have no longer. That was due to fact that I was never there. To make a long story short, truckers earned every penny that they got coming to them and for this to happen is criminal. To me this was 41 plus years for absolutely nothing. I got my fingers crossed but I know it's going to take more than that. I went to war at 18, survived all that, and came home to work long hours in ice, snow, and fog.
I am thankful for this reprieve; I just wonder when that will be out the door. All I can say to the people that are in the same boat that a lot of us are in, good luck.
This I hope will end well for me. Myself and my handy capped ward that is blind and can't walk or talk are losing our home due to my pension cutting me off in order to recoup their mistake. I have told them I need my right full pension and asked them for a hardship waiver on back overage they cut me. They went along saying sorry but they had to cut it. Sorry does not pay my mortgage or put food on my table, sorry they say till your 80 and only have 14yrs. Then you can have your $912.16, go live off the state or on human services, get food stamps, go on Medicaid, sleep in a shelter with your handy capped ward, or eat in a soup kitchen. I know they don't care but I want to sue them for damage loss on our home and soon all the financial damages that have caused emotional distress for both me and my ward.
Age: 73, Mesquite, Texas
I worked for two different trucking companies, Red Ball Motor Freight and Yellow Freight., now known as Yellow Roadway Corporation (YRC). I did 15 years at Red Ball and 15 years at Yellow Freight. I paid in all my union dues to get my retirement and I retired in Sept.1998 and I have been drawing this ever since then, $2,200.00 after taxes. I earned this, and now, age 73, they want to cut my pension that I earned. This is a hard job and the only reason that I stayed was for the hourly pay at the time in 1964 at Red Ball Motor Freight. They gave me Teamsters benefits at the time and they went out business in 1982 and I went and found another company Yellow Freight where I payed all union dues there until I retired in 1998. I would like to know what the Central states and southeast did with our money? I think the people that did all investments should be accountable for this because there is something going on. I just want to know did someone or somebody pocket the money or stole it from the Pension Fund?
Age: 73, Ravenna, Ohio
I’m 73 years old and was a trucker all my life. I had to retire at 57 years old because of medical problems. I had 26 years credit at that time. That was a total of $2,600. I gave back $390 a month so my wife could draft half at my death. I have had 4 heart attacks, triple bypass, and then 3 stints put in. I’m also now battling prostate cancer that has spread into my bones. My home has a mortgage against it because of all of my medical expenses. Losing my pension will cause me to lose everything. If I can keep it till I die, my life insurance would help my wife to be able to keep our house. She is 8 years younger than me.
Age: 67, Lecompton, Kansas
After layoffs and two hour commutes to save my job, I am facing a pension cut that I don’t deserve. Sometimes working conditions were difficult given cold, icy conditions. I saw a man die when he was pinned between two trailers, many times it was the promise of a pension that kept me going. Shortly after I retired Consolidated Freightways folded. Now I find out that leaves me an “orphan”. I am a victim of my circumstances and I fear that I won’t be able to keep my full pension because of this orphan status. I put in my time and had no control over what CF did. I did not in any way contribute to CF closing and going to a non-union truck line known as Conway. I may soon pay a terrible price for their actions.
Age; 67, Illinois
The loss of one's identity is a grouping of attributes, qualities, and values that define how many of us view ourself and perhaps how we think other people see us. Ben, my husband is losing his hard earned pension. Ben is a hard working family man that was a loyal employee who drove a flat steel truck for 43 years. His self-identity now is shaped by this horrendous law called MPRA. CSPF plans on cutting Ben's pension of 43 years by 60%. As Ben puts it, they are now giving him an allowance they can be STOPPED at any time.
Our story is not much different from everyone else's story. We may lose our home, fall severely behind in all of our bills, not have enough money for food, or Rx drugs. I am putting off a surgery because I don't want to run up a hospital bill now, and there will be zero money left over for the unexpected. Basically, everything he worked for our entire lives is at risk because of MPRA. As much as this all terrifies me it doesn't worry me as much as what it is doing to my Ben.
I see the grief on his face. The shock and disbelief when he is trying to deal with this theft of his pension breaks my heart. Trying to get through each day without "HOPE" is the hardest thing anyone one can do. The sadness I feel about this situation is nothing compared to his profound sadness and despair in his voice. The fear in his eyes speaks volumes, yet I notice the same fear in the mirror as I comb my hair every morning. The helpless and anxiousness in the pit of my stomach never seems to go away and his insomnia keeps us both up all night. He never says it but I think he feels like he let me down. Can you imagine that? He got up every morning at 4:00 am in all kind of weather to drive that truck. (Just like the rest of the drivers) He missed our kid’s ball games, dance recitals, birthday parties and most of all the good night kisses from his kids. If there is any justice in this world I pray that all who were involved in our pension theft be held accountable and pay for their corrupt actions of our earned pension.
RETIREES LIVES MATTERS
Age: 64, Wyoming, Michigan
I worked for a company called Wolverine Tractor in Byron Center, MI. On December 22, 2009, I was informed that I would no longer have a job and that on January 1st, 2010, Wolverine Tractor would no longer exist.
The company was “absorbed” by Alta Fork Lifts in Grand Rapids, a non-union company. I interviewed with them but was informed that I would not be offered a position with Alta Fork Lifts. I was given no reason why from Alta. So, after 35 years of work and over 20 years into CSPF with only a few years left to earn a full pension, I was told I just no longer had a position.
I found out later that others in the department were offered a position. Each one was younger with fewer years and less experience in the field. When I called and asked my supervisor why I had not received an offer for work, I was given no reason why. My supervisor told me that he had never been unhappy with my work. I’d never been written up, was always at work on time, was the top sales person, and was the most knowledgeable and experienced in my department.
The economy in 2009 in Michigan was dire. Who would hire me at 58 years old and so close to retirement? In 2009 – no one! I was on unemployment until I could begin collecting my pension at 60 years old. This was much earlier than I had wanted to do so but circumstances forced me to retire before I was ready to or wanted to. For the next two years, I used my reduced early retirement pension funds and my IRA to keep us afloat until I could begin to collect Social Security at 62. Those four years were some of the longest and hardest years of my life. I had planned on a full 30-year retirement benefit with plenty of money in an IRA to have some fun and travel. Instead, I ended up with a reduced pension, a smaller Social Security monthly payment and an IRA with zero dollars left in it. But, I made it – we made it! We still had our home, our vehicles, and finally – peace. Then, the letter came . . .
Reading it made my skin crawl. How can a government of the people, by the people, and for the people seriously even consider implementing a policy that breaks a promise and steals money from the most vulnerable of its citizens? What representation did “we the people” have in this decision? Is this the best this country can do for citizens who have been positive contributors to its success and its ability to thrive? No. I will never believe that we can’t do better than this! There is a way and it is up to our “representatives” and our government to find a way – for the people!
There can be no more cuts to my already reduced pension benefit. I already took all of the cuts I could to survive the Great Recession. In return, I received no bailout, no bonus, and no golden parachutes to offset the financial hit I withstood. I survived by giving up many luxuries, extras and . . . joy in order to simply survive.
We will not ask our children to support us. They have their own future to support and build. I will not rob them because the government robbed me. And, getting a job is not an option for me at this time either. I’m 64 and I am being treated for cancer.
If these cuts are put into place, we will lose our home and our ability to purchase and maintain a vehicle as well. After my wife retires, I don’t know how we will pay the health care premiums for Medicare Gap coverage and our prescriptions! How will we simply exist and survive under this impossible “solution” to this problem? We won’t. We will become an even bigger burden to the system when we become dependent on the government for support: welfare, food stamps, tax cuts, health care, housing and more.
I never dreamed I would have this much stress to endure during my retirement years. It isn’t supposed to be this way. I did my job. I paid into my Pension fund. I did everything I was asked to do. I held up my end of this bargain and I’ve paid enough for the poor decisions of others. NO MORE CUTS – enough is enough.
Power is fascinating. Too much and it destroys everything in its path. Too little and it has no influence. Power that is beneficial successfully empowers what is powerless productively. We are powerless and can’t change what is coming without the power of your influence. Your energy will either empower our independence or “pull the plug” on our life support system.
Please help us. Empower us to continue to live joyful, full and productive lives as citizens of this great country. More than this, restore our confidence in this country, our government . . . of the people, by the people and . . . for the people.
Age 72, Winston Salem, North Carolina
I got out of the Navy at age 23 and worked for 9 months in a plant. I realized I needed to have a better job. I got a Teamster job driving for McLean trucking after hearing you could retire with a pension for life when you reached retirement age. I worked there 2 years, and then started hauling cars, for Anchor Motor Freight. I got my thirty years in at age 55. Teamsters made it very clear I could no longer work in the industry, or I would lose my pension. Now when I am too old and worn out to work, they say pension will be cut 60 percent. Now I am willing to bet congress, and the senate will not be cutting their pension. With the national debt at 19 or 20 trillion dollars, I would say their pension is not solvent. Yet, I hear of no bill being introduced to cut their pension. By the way this includes all government officials. The reason I took a Teamster job was to have a secure retirement. You need to leave anyone who has put in the time and earned their pension alone and preserve their pension; I assure you it has been earned.
Age: 70, Oregon, Wisconsin
I worked 42.5 years for a Madison company. I committed myself to my job and paid into my pension retirement funds. Then I get a letter that says my pension retirement benefits are going to be cut by 50%. I already share 50% with my ex-wife who was also told her benefits would be cut by 50%. When I asked Central States to explain where they came up with the calculation, I received NO RESPONSE. This is not right. I worked, I earned that pension. I planned to retire and I did - now only to learn they are STEALING 50% OF MY RETIREMENT AND ANOTHER 50% FROM THE EX-WIFE.
Something has to be done. The Trustees all earn in excess of 6 figures amounts, Nyhan got a $32,000 raise in 2014 then took the plan to Washington to cut ours. Where are their cuts? Why are they still employed? We need to get those trustees out of there. They have done nothing for us. Please stop this mess. I EARNED MY PENSION. I DESERVE MY PENSION. I GAVE MY ALL.
Age: 62, Garland, Texas
Please do not cut our pension. This will be catastrophic for my family. I am on social security and unable to work. My income is needed to pay bills, and just survive in today’s economy. I also help with financial aid for my Mom who is in a nursing facility. I help buy supply other things they do not provide for her. I would be unable to do this if my pension is cut. Please help us...
Age: 65, Bridgeton, Missouri
My husband, Dennis, was employed by Schnucks Warehouse for 38 years and paid into the Central States Pension Fund through Teamsters Local 688 the entire time. He retired in 2008, with the promise that he would receive his full pension. He received the dreaded letter a couple months ago and found that his pension benefit will be cut 50% beginning July 2016.
We have saved money for retirement, but this pension is an integral part of our retirement fund. I am 65 and am still employed full time and I was planning to retire next August when I turn 66. Now I am going to have to work indefinitely because of this proposed pension cut. I can’t afford to trade my salary for the meager Social Security check I would be receiving. Dennis has several health issues and the insurance premiums, co-pays and drug costs still are very high. Plus the cost of living keeps going up and all our benefits keep being reduced. I’m sure there will come a time when we will have to decide whether to pay for the medicine or buy food.
Why are simple middle-class folks like us not protected from this form of robbery? You can bet that the Senators and Congressmen who proposed this Pension Reform Act will be receiving their full salary from the time they retire until the day they die – and all from our tax money. We have to rely on Social Security, meager pension checks (if any at all) and any money we might have been able to save over the years. It is not our fault that Central States made bad investment decisions or that UPS backed out of the plan or that many of the companies in the plan went out of business.
Please make Central States do the right thing and pay out the promised benefits to the people who deserve them.
Age: 73, Terrell, Texas
This is my husband, Dennis Niles story. He grew up on a small, family owned ranch in Belton, TX. Everyone had to pitch in -so from about age 5, he worked in earnest. As he got older, the chores became more physically demanding. Bailing hay, loading it on trucks, and burning the spikes off of prickly pear cactus with a flame thrower called a pear burner so the cattle could eat them. At age 15 he started driving a truck cross country in the summer for his uncle. In those days the trucks had horrible suspension & he had to lay a board across the seats to make a bed. He joined the Navy at 18, was UDT &his ears have been messed up since due to some kind of infection.
When he got out, he bounced around a number of jobs, finally landing at UPS in 1975. Another physically demanding job, not to mention the stress UPS puts on employees to PERFORM. When he retired in 2000, we thought we were set for a comfortable, not lavish life. He wasn't disabled at retirement but is now an above the knee amputee, has Peripheral Arterial Disease, high BP, has had some mini strokes, and is becoming frighteningly forgetful. He can't get a job! It's fortunate that I'm 22 years younger & can care for him for now. I could possibly get a part-time job in the nearest small town.
Even still, I’m uncomfortable leaving him alone. His pension is projected to be cut 50% from $2500 to $1250. This will create a hardship in just meeting our basic needs. We certainly won't be able to help meet our granddaughter's basic needs as we do frequently now. The stress of this looming over our heads has sent ME to the doctor because I was afraid for myself, fearing I was headed for a heart attack. It saddens me that people like my husband who've literally worked their entire lives have this threat. It angers me too because this fiduciaries at CSPF have no conscience that they would put some of America's most vulnerable senior citizens through this. These hard working men & women deserve their full & promised pensions.
Joseph U. Sr.
Age: 72, Ludlow, Kentucky
This is my second time putting a story line on this site; I really feel that this is so important to all Teamsters Union Retirees of Kentucky. I worked as an over-the-road and line haul driver for 35 years. My pension was 3 years ($3100.00) and was cut $1550.00, exactly 50%. I have wrote letters to all Representatives of Kentucky to please help the men/and or women involved with this illegal cut of our pensions. Mitch McConnell, Senator (House Majority Leader), wrote back and published on his web-site that he was involved, and voted for the MPRA with helping to rush this MPRA through the Senate and Congress for the President’s signature. Senator Rand Paul (R) wrote me back that he was not at the vote on The MPRA and had no help he could offer in reference to the pension cuts, and he was running for president. Only one person, Congressman Thomas Massie of the 4th district told me he was absent the day of the vote, but informed me how the Bill, "Multi Employer Pension Reform Act Of 2014" was stuffed into the pages throughout the entire 1600 pages of the Cromnibus Bill for the president’s signature. ONE REP out of THREE was willing to help me in any way he could with this illegal piece of garbage, so anybody that has a pension being cut, we have one guy to help us.
Now I would like to help people with some knowledge I was informed with. I'm sure all the people that wrote and heard Susan Meuran was the Retirees Representative according to law, she was a crooked Teamster member working with CSPF, going around to a many Teamsters Local telling them how great this bill will work and save the CSPF from insolvency. Kline-Miller is the misguided men that came up with this MPRA. Sen. Kline of the state of Minnesota and George Miller, a Senator of California (Retired 2-months ago), said it was the job of the Presidents to read a 1600 page Reform Bill that he NEVER did, signing without knowing what the bill was about. Obama never did instruct any of his staff or aids to read the 1600-Pages in the Bill, as stated before, the illegal bill was stuffed between the pages so no one could tell what happened. After the Bill was signed, all they did was separate the papers pertaining to the MPRA Bill and gather them up and said the president signed it.
I wrote a very IMPORTANT LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA, asking him how in God’s name he could sign such an evil and illegal piece of garbage. The MPRA, as of this date today, February 29, 2016, has never even attempted to send anything. What does that tell you? He never read it, nor aims to read it, no-one on his staff read it, he is as bad as the crooks that are trying to steal our pensions
The "Multiemployer Pension Reform Act Of 2014" is a BACK--Door Scum-Type piece of Legislation that all Republicans and a few Democrats should be ashamed of, stealing the pensions of the elderly. It is also stated that the same CEO-NYLAN and the rest of the crooks think they will be running the Pension Fund, bad news for you -you’re out sucker.
A little bit about myself, I'm 72, in a few to be 73. I have built my whole retirement life around this pension. A cut is going to kill me. It’s already devastated my family to the point of wondering where we will get the money to pay our house payment, medications, and hospital bills. When I retired in February of 1999, I went to my Teamster Local #100 in Cincinnati, Ohio, signed my papers, and was told by the Union this pension is for life, no one can take it, it is guaranteed. I was in the ARMY. I served my country with four years’ service, good conduct medal, an E5 in rank, and honorable discharge. I did what my country asked of me. Why are these people stealing, and I mean stealing, my pension?
Age: 55, Honolulu, Hawaii
My ex-husbands worked for the Hawaii Masons Unions, until he retired in 2009. We were married for 14 years and when he became ill, our son and I moved in with Eddie to help care for him. Our son Steven became Eddie's primary care giver, actually his sole care provider, as Eddie's parents were deceased and he was estranged from his siblings, by choice due to multiple families quarreling over Eddie being sole beneficiary to his Fathers estates. When Eddie passed away on April 20, 2012 my son and I tended to Eddie's funeral arrangements and being the sole Trustees and Beneficiaries of the Estate which including a mortgage and other debts, we pushed on, my son never really having time to grieve the loss of his father.
Here's my point-after laying Eddie to rest, taking care of immediate debts and trust issues, we took all the proper documentation to the plan administrator at the union where Eddie retired from. Eddie left his life insurance policies and retirement assets to Steven and me, via living trust pour over will and via Quadro. The plan administrator refused to take any of our documents, said beneficiary was changed, and to this day treats us with total disregard and disrespect. We got EBSA involved, told us to seek legal counsel...looking for legal representation…Something very, very wrong here. We need assistance please!
Age: 69, Las Vegas, Nevada
Mine was cut 30% this year and probably more to come. The real story is: CEO's and overpaid Union officials will show huge savings to their respective boards, thus getting huge bonuses. By not requiring proper funding to pensions, Congress and the president have put the cost of reform to the taxpayer in the form of increased Medicare and Medicaid costs, welfare, food stamps, loss of tax revenues to the respective levels of government, etc. The remains of the middle class will bail out the corporations and shareholders again. Good luck to everyone affected, unite in one voice and demand what you have paid into and for. You can reverse this and win.
Age: 70, Kimbolton, Ohio
Central States will arbitrarily take at half of my pension in July of 2016. The amount to be taken was only "estimated" as to be the proper amount. No proof can be offered as to this being the proper amount. They say it will take several decades, about 30 years or more to correct their shortfalls in funds. I am 70 years old and will never see this correction. I am 100% disabled and can never work again. I won't be able to support myself or my wife. I paid over $105,000.00 into a retirement fund that has become a Ponzi Scheme by Central States. I cannot believe My Country that I fought for would not stand up for a disabled vet and say NO. I need help.
I am 70 years old and in bad health. My wife and I have scaled back our way of life so much in order to retire. This 50% cut to my retirement will be devastating to our lives. CS has very little compassion to its members and seems to blame the members for our financial woes. They were being paid to manage our retirement fund. They say if we vote against the rescue fund, it doesn't matter, they are going to take our money anyway. We need help. CS appears to be our biggest problem. They are not properly representing us.
Again, my life is arbitrarily challenged. Back in 1965 I was drafted into the military for the war in Vietnam. I and my family have been suffering ever since (cancer, PTSD etc.) and now again, CS. is taking half of my pension, arbitrarily another financial hardship to my family .I am 70 and unable to work again. I fought for my country and worked all my life to have a decent life for my wife and myself but because of mismanagement of pension funds by the Teamsters and CS my life will never be the same. I tried, God knows I tried. I plea for those in authority to help.
After 10 years retirement CS. is cutting my pension by 50%. They say in several decades it might stabilize. In 30 years? They have misused the pension money so badly our members are terming it a "Ponzi Scheme". They have steered us into insolvency. CS needs a complete audit before anything is done with the member’s money on this "rescue plan". Already one trustee has been fired for misuse of funds. We need help and more consideration by the treasury to help save our future. Just grabbing our money now after so many years of misuse by CS seems so un-American. I am a disabled old man, a Vietnam veteran, with very few years left. Believe me I know what "un-American means. Please help us. God bless us all and thank you.
Age: 66, Hugo, Oklahoma
I worked 30 years at UPS and payed into Teamster Central States Pension Fund. Now at age 66, I got a letter saying CSPF will be taking 50% of my pension, about 1275.00 per month in July 2016. This is a broken contract, broken promise, and theft. Just because it was passed through congress does not make it right. If I took money from people like this it would be called fraud and I would be sent to the pen. The US gives money all over the world, WE bail out GM, Chrysler, Wall Street, and the Banks but the people that worked hard and went by the rules can't get any help. Why are things so crooked and upside down? My Wife and I cannot live with these pension cuts and we cannot go back to work. CONGRESS, what are we supposed to do? DIE? If Congress does not help these Retirees then every member of Congress should be voted out and replaced with someone who is for the American People first. God said" The man that does not take care of his own house first is worse than an infidel.
Age: 58, Roanoke, Virginia
I worked for the Kroger Co. (Kroger warehouse) in Salem, Va. In 1998 we voted for a 25 year or 30 year retirement at any age which meant $1500.00 per month for 25 years of service or $2000.00 per month for 30 years of service. Now hearing of the information being passed now from central states, many people will have their pension cut to $600.00 from $1200.00 a month. The pension fund agreed to the 25 and 30 and out retirement in 1998 and now we are suffering on behalf of the people who could not invest the money right. We will now suffer from hard earned years of work by having our money stolen from us and never be able to get it back.
Age: 53, Siloam, North Carolina
When a retiree becomes eligible for social security, central states should deduct that amount from that retirees pension giving Teamsters pension plan support for the future. This plan would give our pension support throughout its life instead of having to take cuts periodically and possibly strengthen it for future increases.
Age: 68, Granite, Illinois
I'm a 618 Teamsters out of St. Loui, Missouri. I got a chronic illness that I had to go out on disability and then later on had to take an early retirement. When I turned 67 I turned my disability into retirement pay. Now I receive a letter from Central States saying they are cutting my PENSION but yet I'm still considered disabled. How can they cut my PENSION? Please see if you can help me in any way. I'm single & have no other income.
Age: 68, Lexington, North Carolina
I worked for Schlitz/Stroh Brewery for 30 years. Every contract that came up we took retirement benefits instead of the massive raises that the company offered. We were promised that our money would grow and when we retired it would be there for us. Now that I have been drawing my pension, Central States says that they are going to cut our retirement in half. It is not my fault that they mishandled the money. I think that they should come up with a better plan than cutting benefits to thousands of fellow Teamster brothers and sisters that have worked hard for their pension only to be told we are going to take half back. I think that our congressmen and women and senators should support the KOPPA ACT and help us out. Thank you for letting me voice my opinion.
Age: 69 Heath, Texas
My husband retired with 40.5 years of service and died about 18 months after retirement. He had elected the 75% spousal survivor benefit option. For the months he was living his pension payment was reduced by several hundred dollars because of this option. When he died I was awarded 75% of the reduced amount, so now the payment was just over half of the amount we had in our budget plan for retirement. If this proposal goes into effect, l will be receiving almost $1,000 less. Somehow, $1,500 per month is not much of a pension for over 40 years of service and dedication. I cannot survive with the cut as it is currently planned.
Age: 59, Ofallon, Missouri
I have been a Teamster for 34 years and had to retire because of back issues This pension cut is being rushed, this needs an independent audit of a neutral company. I believe even after these cuts it still will not survive. There is no mention of past cuts or how to survive .The government bailed out banks, they can help us out too.
Age: 69 Holly, Michigan
I worked for United Parcel Service for 33 years as a driver. I worked hard all those years and paid for my pension. After retirement my wife became disabled and I tried to get part-time work to help our income, but every job I asked permission to get was refused by Central States. I was retired, but was controlled by them or else I would lose my pension. In 2006 I had to have a double knee replacement which ended in total respiratory failure. My lungs had been destroyed. I was on oxygen 24 hours a day and not able to do anything. I had a double lung transplant and now take very expensive anti-rejection meds. Just one of those meds cost me $1000.00 a month. If they take over half of my pension away, we will not make it and without my meds I will die.
Central States has upper officials that make as much as $600,000 a year with private jets, vacations, and many other perks. They have mismanaged the funds for years and now want us to pay for it!! Please don't let this happen!
Age: 68, North Carolina
I feel like others and I have made it clear that we have budget to maintain before December 2014. We were on fixed incomes and now with cuts on the way I have lost both. I'm not here to keep repeating myself. We earned our full pension. I am not here to continue begging. Someone has literally stolen our pensions. If Wall Street Banks and Government CS cannot find our pension fund, go collect Teamsters money that is still n Vegas. I live in North Carolina and today we are having a winter weather storm. Yesterday Governor McCrory warned us to be prepared and that our insurance we paid for to cover times like we are facing to repair or replace. We were not warned and no one can find premiums paid into pensions for our retirement. I really do not think anyone cares about the humans that have been robbed. We are going to keep pounding and pounding, louder and louder, bigger and bigger, and stronger and stronger. HOFFA Sr. made the statement we only want a piece of the pie, a fair day’s pay for a fair days work and we are here to make sure our pensions are delivered the same as we delivered packages in weather conditions like today.
If I were still working, Teamsters like me would have been delivering packages for the largest, strongest delivery service in the world. 200 plus countries and what can Brown do for you? We were UPS, still an important part that helped build the pie. We expect our pieces to be delivered like we delivered your packages. Honor contracts agreed on the 31 years of service with UPS.
Age: 65, Missouri
No one in their right mind will every join the Union again if this goes through. A seven minute speech was all it took for Congress and Senate to vote to destroy the lives and livelihood of those who worked their lives away for the Union to have a retirement. They say it will not reduce plans of those on disability, but of course they do not include Social Security Disability. I have had major health issues like many other and cannot go back out and get another job. I have stood outside in the snow and cold on picket lines to back my Union and for what? A 50% cut is life a life changing amount that will put many people into financial destress, not to mention the emotional stress of this. Where is our government’s promise to helping their own people? They will bail out everyone around the world except the hard working people who were the backbone of this country. We are being forced into poverty and social and economic impacts that will have us all affected. It is devastating.
Age: 71, Millers Creek, North Carolina
I have not received any letters explaining the cuts. I called Central States and told them I hadn't. The 1st of December I received a letter saying I would be receiving the papers I hadn't received from the earlier mailing. Central States said the publishing company would be mailing them. I also know two other retirees that haven't received any mail explaining the cuts.
Age: 70, Vero Beach, Florida
Including the Pension cut provision in the Omni bill was done underhandedly. It is in direct contradiction with ERISA that protects these pensions. Crippling the pensions earned by 270,000 people deserved to be discussed on the floor of Congress on its own merit. We as Teamsters must realize that this was initiated and done by the democrats, the very same people we supported over the years in the very same way Clinton undercut us with NAFTA deal. The Federal government is directly responsible for crippling our Pension Plan. Appointing the Central States management was a complete disaster. Yet, Nyhan is getting a $ 38,000 raise for crippling the Plan. It is worthy to mention that our Pension Plan does not have cost of living raises and therefore our buying power is shrinking with every passing year.
Age: 69, Swainsboro, Georgia
Thank you for hearing our voices on help with our Pension Benefits!! Most of all a big thank you goes out to Bernie Sanders!!! You surely have our vote for President!!! My wife and I stand to lose our house and other assets if Central States goes ahead with their plans. This is our only income besides social security. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for caring for people like us. I worked thirty years and gave this company thirty years of safe driving records. To me, it's like a slap in the face and robbing my family of money. We support you and will continue to campaign for you!!!
Age: 64, Burdett, New York
In May 2009 after returning from an overseas trip, I find a letter from the NYS Teacher's Retirements System saying that I have been overpaid for the last 3 years and now they are going to want over $29,000 back. I had retired in July of 2006. The letter stated "this law and that law", but basically was making a case for backing out on something they initially approved.
I called Michael Corn (our Teacher Representative on the NYSTRS Board) and asked what was going on. He stated that Andrew Cuomo (then NYS Attorney General) was auditing all of the Retirement System because some superintendents who had retired had padded their incomes on retirement. So I asked Corn what did this have to do with me? Apparently the Watkins Glen District and the Watkins Glen Faculty Association checked ahead of time on some new contract language in our 2004 contract and Corn stated that NYSTRS lawyers had said it sounded fine and it was not a problem. Well Cuomo didn't think it was fine. Corn stated that the NYSTRS Board was going to fight him on Watkins Glen's teacher program for retirement credit because they had advised them that it was viable for retirement credit. I wrote a letter to NYSRS saying I was no way at fault and have no idea why I'm being made to pay back something I had nothing to do with. Six months later I had a message on my answer machine from Michael saying he had tried, but the NYSRS Board had to "cave" to Cuomo. He apologized, saying he was so sorry it had turned out like this. I was terribly upset. I heard nothing more until a year later about one month AFTER Cuomo is elected governor. I received a letter stating I will now have $1000 a month ($500 toward the "overpayment and $500 reduced for life) deducted from my pension, until the over $29,000 is paid back. I took them to court. Michael Corn had meanwhile died of cancer. I got a deposition from our union Retirement Rep. that had talked to the NYSTRS lawyers and Corn prior to our negotiations setting the contract language.
I lost. I sat in court when the 5 judges asked my lawyer if the "District/Union" had gotten it in writing. The answer is no, they hadn't, because they didn't see a necessity for it at the time. This is why I had a deposition from the Union Rep. They didn't consider that absolute proof. The only other person I could have gotten a statement from was Michael Corn and he had now passed away from cancer. So my lawyer didn't feel I had grounds to go back on the District. She was a local lawyer who kindly took my case because NYSUT (NYS Teachers Union) said they wouldn't take the case because I was retired. I have already spent $15,000 on legal fees and I had nothing left to try again. During this whole time, I'm blocked from online access to my Retirement information and then suddenly in 2013 all quarterly and annual statements stopped coming in…nothing.
In January 2015, $500 a month starts reappearing in my monthly retirement check. In July 2015, I requested to have access to my online retirement account, and after three weeks, they allowed me to log in. It says $0 on the line for "other". By my calculations I still had 11 months more to go before the pay back amount would be satisfied. To date I have received no letter stating the amount was paid in full. Then I read your article. Is it too late or could I possibly get the money back...should they have been asking for this money from the Watkins Glen School District?
Age: 68, Tecumsh, Michigan
It took me 40 years to lock in a 30 year pension from the teamsters. I was 62 years old when I had to stop working because I was diagnosed with cancer. I drove truck for a national freight company. This company I worked for is still paying in to the pension fund. I cannot work anymore and they are cutting my pension by 60%. There is no way I can live on $1200 a month. I’m still getting treatment for cancer. Why don't they make companies like Y.R.C. who stopped paying in to the pension fund about 8 years ago because the price of diesel fuel got up to $5 a gallon and said could not pay in anymore? Now that fuel is back down to $2 a gallon they sure as hell are making enough to pay into the pension fund. They must owe billions dollars of back pay. What makes it worse is any NO vote by the retirees by the people DOES NOT count. Only yes votes count so it is turned down. It don't mater, one yes vote will pass it. They fixed it so no one has a say in the matter. What I don't understand is why some pension are only getting cut 10%, some are getting cut 20%, and some only a few dollars. I have talked to a lot off drivers I worked with who are retired and every ones pension is cut a different amount. As far as I can see this is another ploy by the Republicans to break all the unions in this country like they have for the past 40 years. Thanks for your time with one foot in the poor house.
Age: 68 Martensdale, Iowa
I retired 15 years ago this May after the warehouse I worked at closed. I am 68 years old and have several health issues. I had triple heart by-pass surgery, 6 stents in my heart after the surgery, I had surgery on both arms & legs, skin cancer, high blood pressure, and arthritis. I was unable to get a job when the company closed the warehouse and now they are cutting my pension. When I retired I had to buy out my last three years just to get the 30 and out pension and now they want to cut it 50%. They think I can go out & get another job. I looked for one after I lost my job when the company closed however no one is hiring and especially no one is hiring a man my age. I don't feel I should have to give up any of my pension after I worked for a company for 34 years. I gave them the best years of my life after serving in the Vietnam War. How are us aged people supposed to survive without a full pension? We cannot count on our Social Security taking care of us. It takes both the pension & social security to live.
Age: 71, Gaffney, South Carolina
I worked for UPS for 32 years. Now I am losing half my pension and am not able to work outside of the job of taking care of my wife who is over 50 years old is confined to wheelchair with Parkinson’s. How am I supposed to make it after losing 19,000k a year? Central States needs to be held accountable.
Age: 68, Viola, Wisconsin
I worked 33 years as a local 200 Teamster and worked for numerous companies trying to keep going to earn my pension. I too left early with health issues and am glad I did. I paid $500 a month for some crummy health insurance till I got Medicare. I never got much vacation time because these companies would fold and then you started all over. We don't live forever and now we get our income chopped in half? This is a real slap in the face. Nobody is going to hire me for I just had open heart surgery. I like the rest of my teamster brothers will try our best to make due. God bless and help us all.
Age: 70, Hamilton, Alabama
Elbert Lawler Jr. worked in US Reduction in Russellville, Alabama. He dies in 1981, but they sold to Wabash Alloy in 1984. They ended up closing in 2002. They paid their employees retirement lump sum, or I think sold it to some Insurance company. Whichever they wanted, they did end up paying some windows lump. They never contacted me, but I had moved. Thank you if you can help me in.
Age: 57, Paris Kentucky
I had to retire early due to a cripple disease that hit my muscular system screwing up the ability to be on my feet more than fifteen minutes. This, in addition to Tinnitus, would make hearing a bosses order difficult which now has me stuck, trying to live on disability. If it were not for my wife continuing to work, food and medicine would become luxury items.
Age: 70, Georgia
The clock is ticking. The stress and the uncertainty are growing with each day. That being known, I thought that I would contact a few of my creditors and see what help I can expect as the result of my pension being cut 53%. I believed that if I approached them we could work out something satisfactorily for both. Well I was “WRONG”. They said that they have no policies in place for “HARDSHIPS”. There statement to me was that if I was unable to meet my obligation, it was to sell. As long as I owned I was required to pay what I owed. I know that I am not alone here. These cuts must be stopped. This country will see a financial tsunami like never before. Words and actions from creditors may differ somewhat. Bottom line, they want their money and they will use the law to collect what is owed to them. On the other hand we had contracts. We lived and worked within the contract. We have earned our pension. We have worked many years to earn this pension. Now we are being taken back on the promises made to us. If allowed to happen we will witness a snowball effect through the economy. The effects will be uncontrollable as well as devastating, unless that is the plan.
The plan will not succeed as written. The plan cannot exist when companies continue to exit. The method of voting is tilted and unfair. Only ballots received should be counted. The funds Director and Trustees are responsible for the condition of the fund today, not the retirees. Purposed cuts are not equal and unfair and unjust. There should be “NO CUTS.
Age: 49, Elmore, Ohio
I don't have a pension, but serve as a trustee on several. Pensioners are not to blame; severe deregulation of financial industry, the crash, and declining number of actives and declining number of companies which employ union labor are contributors to this problem. I know my comments don't provide a solution--I just want everyone to stop blaming retirees for this situation. (And I'd like any politician, big-banker, lobbyists and others who perpetrated this to contribute to a pension fund bailout). Read: "The Great American Stickup", then start demanding that those people pay you back.
Age: 71, Minneapolis, Minnesota
After working for UPS for 36 years, I cannot believe that my pension I being cut 50%. UPS is a billion dollar company and should cover their retirees, not only those who retired after 2007. It’s one thing if a company goes out of business or goes bankrupt, maybe then a pension cut is reasonable, but not when a company is still in business and making billions of dollars of profit each year. All UPS retirees should receive 100% of their pensions.
Age: 66, Bedford, Texas
My 25 year pension through Road Carriers 707 in New York was cut by 50% on February 1st, 2016. My wife and I are already feeling the hit. I worked 30 years in the union and this is what we get through no fault of our own. I cannot believe this can happen in America, and they blame it on Wall Street mismanagement of funds or whatever.
Another thing I can’t understand is KOPPA introduced in June of 2015, which has 38 Democrat co-sponsors and the bill H.R. 2488 has gone nowhere. This sends me a message that republicans do not support any plan to help retirees to fix this problem. My wife and I will not have to sell out home and find an apartment. So much for the “vested, GUARANTEED Pension and our “golden years”.
Age: 68, Tecumseh, Michigan
I was forced into retirement due to losing my vision. At 55 I was devastated since I finally worked my way up to lead man at my job and expected to work longer to support my family. I "earned" a full pension working 35+ years, I didn't need to take the disability pension, so now even though I was disabled at the time I retired, I'm being punished and being cut 60% of my income! That pays my house payment and taxes on my home. As everyone else, I "earned" my pension and had my time in. Where can I go work to make up the $25,000.00 a year I will be losing? In one booklet from 2005 it states that the plan considers you totally disabled if you have been determined disabled by the Social Security administration. It also states that if one can provide medical evidence establishing that your disability is both total and permanent. Right…where can a blind man go to get a job with a leader dog to make up the difference? My wife has health issues and has cut out going to physical therapy since it cost $120.00 a week. She has cut back on getting her meds refilled since they cost us out of pocket $500.00 or more a month. She is losing the use of her arms due to an injury. Our car is over 12 years old and my leader dog's health has taken over $4500.00 in vet bills this past year....I could go on & on. It's devastating enough to lose my vision but my income slashed as it says it will be…it's right up there too.
Age: 56, Elwood, Illinois
This is my nightmare. I’ve worked 29 years for the same company. I work at least 65 hours a week. I’ve worked through illness, broken bones, sprain ankles and knees, and a fused spine. All of this pain I’ve worked through just so I could retire and ease the aching bones in my body. I’ve worked through holidays, family birthdays, weddings, and even missed funerals of my very own family. All just so I could collect my pension. Now my pension is being taken away. I’m almost to the finish line and they’ve just moved the line to pass my gravesite. I will have to work until I die. This is horrible, not just for me, but for ALL of my fellow pensioners.
Central States, whom we trusted with OUR FUNDS, made bad choices and basically gambled out money away. This is a crime. Please, please do not grant them permission to cut our pensions. Many lives are at stake. Many of the retired pensioners will have to go back to work. Just imagine, you’re a retired, 75 year older person and now your pensions are cut by 60%. What are they going to do?
This is not just simply a crime, but a slap in the face of every hard working person in this country. If you are going to cut the pensions, at least send us nice boxes to live in. We will all be homeless…do not allow Central States to cut our pensions.
Age: 69, Sanger, Texas
I worked for Consolidated Freightways in Dallas for 30 years. I was involved in a no-fault accident on 08/28/1998. Results from this accident were life changing. I had so many injuries and I had to retire at age 52 with 30 years. I have spent the last 14 years fighting with TWCC about medical, surgeries, and getting the help I needed physically. I had to move in 2002 from our dream home because of our financial situation. We reestablished ourselves with a lesser house and now with this 60% proposed cut it will mean we will probably be moving again. This cut will be a loss of $18,000 per year due to the orphan tag that comes along with the cut. I do get Social Security that helps but doesn’t cover all our bills. So many retirees will be affected by this pension cut and it’s just not fair that we worked hard for our retirement and families. It’s just like having the rug pulled out from under us. It will be a hardship to meet our obligations and maintain our current mortgage.
Age: 68, Hinckley, Ohio
When I retired my wife’s industry was doing well. We were able to raise our grandchildren that lived with us at the time with no problems at all. Now, we only have one living with us and my mother-in-law. The last three years have been tough on us. My wife has taken a total 75% cut in her income and now they are going to take another $22,000 out of our household. How are people supposed to survive when you take that much more away?
Age: 60, Wisconsin
My husband was a Teamster for 30 years plus but passed away before he could retire. I, as his wife, collect “widow’s benefits”. I too will also take a hit when it comes to a pension cut, I am now 60. It is a constant worry on how to make it. This will have a domino effect from losing homes to bankruptcy, health insurance, etc. How do you expect people to live?
Age: 66, Foley, Alabama
I cannot think of a company who would let a person give their whole life to them, and not stand up for the people who has worked their said years as hard and give as much of their own life to support the company in which I still do. I was dedicated and went way out of my lead to support the company and way out for the drivers to satisfy the company we loved. So now, we receive the heart breaking news of our pension being sliced in half. It's not our fault Central States lost the money and UPS pulled out along with other companies, If UPS cared about its retirees who at some point gave their all, they would step in and help. After all we didn't choose this heart break and I may not live long enough to even receive the cut, as for a lot of UPS guys have passed away. Who ate up their pensions? Some big cigar smoker at Central States.
Age: 76, Fayetteville, Ohio
I am currently the president of the Cincinnati Retired Teamster Club .I’m retired from USF Holland Mtr. Exp. and retired in 2007 with 40 plus years’ service. I was involved in a divorce in 1993 and lost all my 4o plus assets in order to keep my promised pension from CSPF. I started over with a 1973 pickup truck, a new mortgage payment, and all the things that go with starting over. I met all the rules that the fund had set up for me to retire , worked until I was 67 years old and could afford to live on my promised pension that I had contributed to all my working life. The Justice Department said the fund was corrupt and they were to oversee the activity. Since then the fund has lost billions thru mismanagement and too big to fail banks. I'm being asked to give up over 50% of that which has been earned to rescue a dying fund that can't be rescued and is at the end of the beginning for all of us. These corrupt people are too big to fail and too big to jail. Let me say in all honesty to the rescue plan, thanks but no thanks.
Age: 72, Zephyrhills, Florida
I am 72 years old. I have bladder cancer, a pacemaker, and a hip replacement. I will not be able to find work at my age. My pension would be cut from $36,000 to $14,175 a year which puts me below the poverty level. $1,175 would never cover my monthly bills and this is without taxes taken out. I would take my pension for the next 10 years of $36,000 which would probably last my lifetime. I would vote not to cut and take a chance.
Please note that stories included in this story bank may have been edited for length and/or clarity.
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