(DETROIT) – Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa joined U.S. Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Dingell, UAW International Union President Gary Jones, and hundreds of retirees and active members of major unions, at a town hall meeting calling for urgent action to protection pensions. More than 43,000 Michiganders and millions of retirees and workers nationwide are facing a looming pension crisis.
Participating in the town hall at the Teamsters Health and Welfare building in downtown Detroit were retirees, active members and leaders from the Teamsters Union, UAW International Union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 951, Iron Workers Local 25, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and the National United Committee to Protect Pensions.
“I want to thank Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Dingell, and all members of Congress who’ve joined us for this critical discussion about the future of pensions in America. It is imperative that Congress act as soon as possible to protect millions of active and retired workers who face an uncertain future due to the pension crisis,” Hoffa said.
Hoffa introduced Jones, who noted that pensioners in over 300 retirement plans across the country need quick action by Congress to solve the crisis.
“The bottom line is that many retirees through no fault of their own find their pensions in peril. We encourage Congress to step up and protect hard-working Americans who rely on their pensions,” Jones said.
“The potential for pension cuts is already having devastating effects on the working men and women in Michigan,” Dingell said. “Every day I hear from people who are scared to death. This is not an academic debate; this is about people’s lives. We cannot overlook the human cost of these cuts. I welcome Leader Pelosi and my Congressional colleagues to Michigan for the opportunity to hear stories first hand. American workers paid into their pensions, now it’s time for Congress to provide them a Better Deal that saves their pensions and allows them to have a secure retirement.”
“Protecting Americans’ pensions is an urgent moral priority,” Pelosi said. “I salute the relentless leadership of Congresswoman Debbie Dingell to defend every American’s right to the dignity of a good retirement and to ensure every worker and retiree is heard. Together, we must safeguard the pension and health benefits that working families have earned, and give the American people A Better Deal that lowers their costs, increases their pay and protects their freedom to join a union to fight for better futures.”
Members of Congress at the town hall also included Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI), Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA), Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) and Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI).
At the town hall, retirees and active workers held signs that read, “Save Our Pensions,” and shared their stories and concerns. John Wilkinson was among the retirees who spoke about the dire need for a solution to the pension crisis.
“We need a fix and need it now. We have to make sure pensions will be there for retirees now and later. We’re all in this together,” said Wilkinson, a 40-year Teamster from Marshall, Michigan.
The Teamsters Union is fighting for a legislative solution and working with legislators on both sides of the aisle. The Teamsters Union supports the passage of the Butch Lewis Act of 2017 (H.R.4444/S.2147) which was introduced in Congress last November by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) and has received bipartisan support. A bipartisan House-Senate Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans has been tasked with working on a fix to the looming pension crisis by November.
More than 10,000 union workers and retirees assembled on the grounds of the Ohio state Capitol last week to let members of the Joint Select Committee know they need to act quickly to protect the jeopardized pensions of some 1.5 million people.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.