IAM/TCU Leaders Defend America’s Pensions and Health Care

IAM and TCU leaders continue to shine a much-needed light on two working family issues currently under attack: pensions and health care.

Taking part in an action session at the AFL-CIO 2013 Convention in Los Angeles, entitled “Bankrupting Retirement: Retirement Security and Bankruptcy as an Employer Strategy,” IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Robert Roach, Jr., told fellow union leaders to have a team and a plan of action in place – before a company files for bankruptcy.

“You need to be prepared because things start happening the first day,” said Roach, who has experienced bankruptcy as an IAM member, local officer, district officer and international officer. “Pensions are what they’re coming after because they don’t want those liabilities.”

IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Robert Roach Jr., as he delivers the commencement speech to the SUNY Empire State College Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies graduating class of 2013 in New York City. The IAM has partnered with SUNY to develop future programs that will prepare union leaders for bankruptcy fights.

The issue of pensions has commandeered headlines in recent weeks as city employees in Detroit fight to prevent their deferred wages from becoming a meal ticket for pulling the Motor City out of bankruptcy. But the scenario taking place in Detroit is one that’s been disquieting unions for quite some time. Companies are increasingly abusing America’s bankruptcy laws, using them as a means to take what they can from unionized employees outside of the normal collective bargaining process.

Conservative members of Congress are currently preparing to introduce a bill that would allow trustees of “deeply troubled” pension plans to cut benefits for people who have already retired.

Delegates to the AFL-CIO 2013 Convention, recognizing the importance of the issue, passed Resolution 14, a measure calling for immediate reform to our nation’s bankruptcy code.

The IAM has partnered with the State University of New York (SUNY) system to develop programs that will prepare union leaders for bankruptcy fights. A two-day program is being planned in the New York City area, as well as a full-semester program as part of a SUNY master’s degree program.

TCU/IAM President Bob Scardelletti called for the elimination of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) 40 percent excise tax while addressing the AFL-CIO 2013 Convention in Los Angeles.

“While there are not good outcomes for our members in the bankruptcy process, there is bad and worse,” said Roach. “It is our job to prevent the worst outcomes in the process.”
 
Speaking on the issue of health care at the AFL-CIO Convention, TCU/IAM President Bob Scardelletti called for the elimination of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) 40 percent excise tax.

“I support President Obama. And we all want health care for all,” said Scardelletti. “But the president said if you have health care, you won’t be affected. Well, that is not true. Benefits that took us a lifetime to achieve are under attack.”

“Union plans are not ‘Cadillac plans,’” continued Scardelletti. “They are what our members fought for, need and deserve. Sisters and brothers, let this convention of America’s greatest labor unions send a strong and clear message to the White House: Do not kill our union plans. Do not tax our benefits.”

The convention passed Resolution 54, calling for the ACA to be administered in a manner that preserves the high-quality health coverage multiemployer plans have provided to union families for decades. If that is not possible, delegates demanded the health care law be amended by Congress for a universal, single-payer health care system.

Video of Scardelletti’s testimony can be seen here.