Teamsters Tell Congress it’s Time to Act on Central States


Capitol Hill staffers learned in February what the Teamsters have known for some time—that proposed cuts to the Central States Pension Fund are a non-starter that won’t save the fund and will devastate tens of thousands of workers across the Midwest.

Teamster representatives briefed a standing-room-only audience of congressional aides on the dire proposal by Central States submitted last October. They noted the pension fund is totally unrealistic in its projections and that even if it were to meet them, Central States itself says there is only a 50 percent chance the fund would remain solvent long term.

John Murphy, International Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Local 122, said if the Department of Treasury looks closely at Central States’ numbers, it can’t allow the proposal to move forward.

He also said lawmakers were unfamiliar with the language of the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA) included in an omnibus appropriations bill in late 2014.

“Treasury must reject this plan,” he said. “We believe members of Congress were hoodwinked by this plan. There was not one hearing on the language of this law.”

Noting the importance of a secure retirement for everyday Americans, Murphy said the federal government must step in and take charge on the issue.

“This is not a union issue, this is not a Republican issue, this is not a Democratic issue,” he said. “It’s a fairness issue.”

It’s just the latest in the union’s efforts to fight these proposed cuts.

Murphy and other Teamster officials have attended several of the meetings held by the Treasury Department across the country this winter where Teamsters have turned out to voice their opposition to the Central States pension plan.

Members of Congress have begun to take notice. A bipartisan collection of 84 House members and 25 senators signed onto separate letters in February calling on Treasury to reject the proposal.

The Treasury Department has until May 7 to make a final decision on Central States’ pension plan. But it shouldn’t need that long. This proposal is broken. Instead, it’s time for the federal government to step up and fix the pensions of retirees as it is supposed to under the law.