Tom BuffenbargerIn a letter to President Barack Obama, IAM President Tom Buffenbarger urged the president to help prevent deep cuts to working Americans’ hard-earned pension benefits.

“On behalf of the IAM, I write to express our strong opposition to the proposal being advanced by some in the multi-employer pension community,” wrote Buffenbarger. “Some poorly-run multi-employer plans want to have the ability to slash retirement benefits for existing retirees to 110 percent of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation’s (PBGC) minimum of $1,072.50 per month, which would work out to only about $1,180 per month. For a worker planning on receiving a monthly benefit of $3,613, this would mean a 67 percent cut in promised benefits. A bigger pension would result in an even larger cut. Such an extreme cut is unconscionable.”

The position staked out by IAM stands in stark contrast to that of Teamster President James P. Hoffa. Hoffa and the Teamsters are in lock-step with employers eager to renege on promises made to loyal employees and together are lobbying hard for new legislation to permit the slashing of current retiree benefits, even the benefits of retired Teamsters.

Many Teamster pension plans are in serious financial distress due to poor management and outright corruption and Hoffa Jr. views this legislation as a way out. Sadly, the well-being of retirees are not being considered.

Making note that pensions are not gifts from employers but deferred wages that employees have sacrificed based on the promise of a secure retirement after a lifetime of work, Buffenbarger shared with the president the findings of a recent study by the Pension Rights Center. The poll found that many Americans are extremely concerned about the benefits they rightfully earned and were promised years ago.

“An essential part of the American Dream is a secure retirement after a lifetime of toil,” wrote Buffenbarger. “For many Americans that dream has turned into a nightmare of uncertainty and fear as incomes have stagnated and the number of workers receiving defined benefit pensions has shrunk. Allowing draconian cuts in retirement benefits will not ease these concerns nor provide for a more secure retirement.”

“I respectfully request your support in stopping any proposal that cuts the hard-earned pension benefits of working Americans.”

Click here to read the letter.

Click here to read how the Teamsters support cutting earned retirement benefits.