|IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger listens to a House committee hearing on proposed legislation to cut existing retirees’ pension plans. Photo: Rick Reinhard|
The IAM will not stand idly by as Congress attempts to pass legislation that would allow “deeply-troubled” multi-employer pension plans to cut benefits for current retirees, said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger at a recent IAM press conference held outside a House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions (HELP) hearing.
Click here to watch “Preserving Our Pensions” on the Machinists News Network (MNN).
“IAM members do not, and will not, stand still for someone to say you are going to have to take a cut in your benefits,” said Buffenbarger. “Pensions are another word for a promise. It’s a promise that was earned and paid for by the participants in those plans. To have legislation pending before our Congress today that would enable those pensions to become insecure; to see pensioners have their benefits totally cut, is unacceptable.”
IAM leaders, members and retirees attended the House hearing in an effort to make their voices heard in the ongoing pension debate.
If the proposals become law, a retiree receiving a pension of $3,600 a month may see benefits drop by over 60 percent.
Buffenbarger says that despite having a fully-funded pension plan, the IAM is extremely concerned about the potential legislation because “they’re going to affect operations of even the healthy plans. There has been no distinction or separation offered.”
Buffenbarger was joined at the press conference by 70-year-old retired International Brotherhood of Teamsters member Alex Adams. Adams collects a pension from the “deeply troubled” Central States Fund, of which a representative testified at the hearing in support of legislation to cut pensions.
Adams says he vehemently opposes any measure to cut his retirement benefits.
“Any Congressman or woman that would come to a working man and say we are going to have to take a little bit of your pension is undeserving of my vote and I hope for others too,” said Adams who is suffering from cancer and depends on his pension to provide for his and his wife’s health care expenses. “I earned that pension. We worked long hours driving those trucks, unloading trucks hour after hour. And now they want to take it away. Shame on them.”
Despite the Central States Fund’s testimony, amid growing opposition, Teamster General President James P. Hoffa sent a letter to the chair and ranking members of the House Committee on Education and Workforce stating his opposition to the plan for cutting pensions for retirees. A copy of Hoffa’s full letter is available here.
The issue appears to be gaining traction and the attention of other unions. Click here for a copy of a statement from the United Steelworkers and here for the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.
A copy of the IAM’s testimony submitted to the HELP committee is available here.
“There is a battle looming in the halls of Congress,” said Buffenbarger. “America needs to stand up and be heard!”
Click here to tell Congress to vote “No” on any proposal to cut America’s pensions.