WASHINGTON, April 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thousands of Teamster retirees from across the country joined together at a rally at the U.S. Capitol today to protest the proposed cuts to their pensions by the Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund (CSPF). The retirees received pledges of support from more than a dozen members of Congress in their fight to protect their hard-earned pension benefits.
CSPF filed an application for cuts to the Treasury Department in September 2015 as allowed under the Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA). Treasury appointee Ken Feinberg has until May 7 to approve or reject the application for benefit reductions. The cuts will devastate the lives of thousands of retirees who worked for years to earn pensions that could be cut as much as 60 percent under the CSPF plan.
"These cuts must not be approved," said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. "You worked hard every day, year after year for the promise of a secure retirement. That was the deal. Now Central States wants to slash your pensions by up to 60 percent? Not on my watch. We will use every resource available to our union to stop these cuts!"
Rita Lewis, widow of retired Local 100 president Butch Lewis, spoke passionately about her husband's commitment to stopping the CSPF cuts before his death and called for Congress to put aside party differences to help the thousands of retirees at risk.
"I would like a bipartisan, permanent solution to solve this pension crisis, for the Teamsters and all union members that have worked for years to earn their pension," Lewis said. "A promise is a promise is a promise."
Members of Congress turned out to throw support behind the retirees' fight against the cuts. In February, a bipartisan collection of 90 House members signed onto a letter sent to the Treasury asking it to reject Central States' application. And 25 senators, both Republicans and Democrats, did the same in a separate letter.
"This money belongs to you, it doesn't belong to anyone else," Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) said. "I'm sorry you have to fight for this again, but that's what you are, fighters."
"It comes down to respect," Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said. "You've done everything right. If we don't stand up for those who have done everything right, what the hell are we doing in the United States of America?"
"You know you worked for these benefits and fought for these benefits," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said. "You gave up wages at the negotiating table to have these benefits in the future. You've held up your end of the bargain. That's why I've called on the Treasury to reject these cuts."
"This MPRA legislation went through in the dark of the night," Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said. "It never had hearings in the Senate and there was never any evidence of why it should happen and how it should happen. That's why I voted no on it and that's why it wasn't the right legislation to pass this United States Congress."
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.
Contact: Galen Munroe, (202) 624-6911, firstname.lastname@example.org
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SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters