The Teamsters have begun informing retirees and current workers that their pension benefits may soon be cut, the final ironic twist to a lobbying campaign that saw the union spend its own members’ dollars to win the right to shrink their retirement pay.
The somber notifications began going out from the Teamsters Central States Health and Welfare Pension Fund this spring, a decision that could ultimately affect 410,000 current pension participants and a total of more than 10 million U.S. workers nationwide. Cuts could begin as early as next year.
The cuts were made possible after the lame-duck Congress late last year passed the Multi-employer Pension Reform Act (MPRA), enabling any multiemployer pension fund to cut benefits to workers and current retirees if the plan is underfunded by at least 20 percent.
The Teamsters pension fund has been struggling with severe shortages for years, even as the union continued to pour millions of dollars into political election efforts and Washington lobbying.
In 2014 alone, the union and its affiliates spent nearly $5.9 million on lobbying and political contributions, and one of its main legislative targets was passage of the pension reform law that finally gave it the right to start reducing benefits, according to the lobbying reports it filed with Congress.