Multiemployer Pension Plans Under Attack

By Robert Roach, Jr.
IAM General Secretary-Treasurer

Americans are concerned about their retirement futures. And rightly so.

Multiemployer pension plans protected by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) are under attack.

With the impending sunset of the multiemployer funding provisions of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) in 2014—coupled with a declaration of war by right-wing conglomerates on working-class Americans—some in the pension community are advancing a proposal to significantly reduce pension benefits for current and future retirees.

Corporate America wants to go back on their promise of a secure retirement for their employees.

The proposed plan would allow employers to slash retirement benefits for existing retirees to 110 percent of the PBGC’s minimum of $1,027.50 per month. That works out to about $1,180 a month.

In other words, a worker planning on receiving a monthly benefit of $3,613 would be facing a 67 percent cut.

The bigger the pension, the bigger the drop in benefits.

For a 75-year-old retiree who has given a lifetime of work, the mere thought of losing that much in fixed income is unconscionable. Pensions are not gifts from employers. They are deferred wages employees have sacrificed based on an employer’s promise of a secure retirement.

In the IAM, and labor unions in general, we don’t give away pensions. We fight for pensions and pension security.

We oppose any proposal that cuts the hard-earned pension benefits of working and retired Americans. More draconian cuts to working families are not the solution to employers’ inability to run solvent plans.

We demand better protection for the 44 million workers who have placed their retirement incomes under the PBGC’s care. Like banking institutions, the PBGC should be considered too big to fail. Congress must see to it that the PBGC is properly funded.

Lawmakers must also create a program that will allow insolvent plans to merge with solvent ones, or smaller plans with larger ones, without risking the latters’ financial future and health.

We in the Machinists Union know the benefits of a well-run multiemployer plan. With assets of over $9.2 billion, the IAM National Pension Fund provides retirement security to over 80,000 retirees and beneficiaries. The Fund has more than 1,750 contributing employers and is the sixth largest multiemployer plan in the U.S.

When it comes to the IAM, our members—retired, current and future— expect the best. Nothing less.

The same goes for their retirement security. They deserve what they were promised—not a penny less.

We urge Congress’s support and immediate action in safeguarding the PBGC today.

Hanford workers reject contractor offers

— Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council workers decisively voted down offers from five Hanford contractors Tuesday.

HAMTC posted results Tuesday night.

CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation workers voted 408 to 2 against the offer.

Washington River Protection Solutions workers voted 474 to 3 against the offer.

Read the full article from the Tri-City Herald >

Read more here:
The Invisible Party at the Table: The Detrimental Effect of the DOE's Benefit Policy on Collective Bargaining at the Hanford Nuclear Cleanup Site

The Invisible Party at the Table: The Detrimental Effect of the DOE's Benefit Policy on Collective Bargaining at the Hanford Nuclear Cleanup Site

DOE is the original “Go-Co”…Government owned, contractor operated agency within
the federal government. As such the work of DOE and its predecessors is almost exclusively
performed by contractors and has been since the middle of World War II during the development
of the Manhattan Project. DOE is the customer and as such sets the standards of the contracts
and administration of these contracts. DOE is the defacto employer of the contractor workforce.
DOE awards contracts based on Requests for Proposals that are developed and written by DOE.
The reimbursements that are allowable under the terms of the DOE contracts sets the limits as to
what the contractors will negotiate with the unions that represents their workers. When the DOE
says they are not involved in negotiations with the unions for the workers at DOE sites, what
they are not saying is that they set the limits on what the contractors can get paid for. DOE
incentivizes contractors’ awards by reimbursements and bonuses for costs avoidances and
reductions in costs, knowing full well these terms dramatically affect the scope and the terms of
the negotiations between labor unions and the contractors.

Read the Metal Trades Department White Paper linked below.
White Paper

Mobile Metal Trades Council Launches Organizing Campaign at Austal

After more than nine-months of behind the scenes planning the Mobile Metal Trades Council has launched a campaign to unionize the workers at Austal USA, a Navy shipbuilding and repair facility in Mobile, Alabama.

“Stepping onto the Austal yard is like stepping into a time warp,” said Ron Ault, MTD President. “If ever there were a location that need a union it’s Austal. These employees are experiencing some of the worst favoritism, poor working conditions, and general arrogance of management I have ever seen,” continued Ault.

“Austal receives millions of dollars from the state of Alabama in economic development grants and millions more in training funds from the state’s AIDT but the company is failing to properly train new hires and provide continuing education for those already on the job,” said Keith Maddox, an AFL-CIO Strategic Campaigns Manager working with the Mobile MTC on the campaign.

“Austal has made it very clear that they do not want a unionized workforce. Since 2002 the Sheet Metal Workers had been trying to organize the yard but Austal violated labor law after labor law to ensure that the workers did not get a voice on the job. We intend to change that,” said John Barry, MTD General Representative. “We have full commitment of our affiliated unions on this campaign, this time we will prevail.”

“In the previous campaigns, SMART Local 441 was contacted by Austal workers who were concerned about fairness, safety and a lack of skills trainingâ?? in those campaigns, Austal used heavy-handed, brutal, illegal and unlawful worker intimidation tactics to discourage workers from joining together to form a union. The company fired perceived union sympathizers and threatened workers with job loss and loss of benefits if they supported the union. In those campaigns, Ausatl was forced by the National Labor Relations Board to re-run the elections due to their illegal and prohibited actions,” continued Barry.

Austal doesn’t confine its disdain for unions to the Mobile shipyard, the Australian based company has fought against unionization at its other facilities around the globe. Ault and many of the MTD affiliated union presidents have been in contact with Australian labor leaders throughout the planning stages of this campaign “we intend to make this a global effort,” said Ault.

Support the Austal campaign. Visit the website at:

Tell Congress: Stop the Furloughs

Starting July 8th, mandatory furloughs for upwards of 700,000 Department of Defense workers will go into effect. Each worker is required to take 11 unpaid holidays – one per week – meaning their pay will drop 20% for 11 weeks. We can’t allow this to continue.

Use the letter below to automatically contact your members of Congress and tell them these furloughs have to stop. Take a minute of your time and make a difference for your fellow feds today!

Use this Automatic Form to Contact Your Legislators Today!

(When contacting Congress be sure to do so as a constituent, on your own time, using your own computer)

Take a minute to join the cause and STOP THE FURLOUGHS! Click this link to send YOUR MESSAGE to Congress!!

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