Local teamsters to join protest in washington – news – gaston gazette – gastonia, nc

Retired truck driver Brad Colesworthy could see his $2,500-a-month pension cut almost in half if the Treasury Department agrees to allow the company that helps fund his retirement to slash his benefits along with thousands of others. So late Wednesday night, Colesworthy planned to hop on a chartered bus with dozens of other area Teamster Union retirees to travel to Washington to join a national protest in front of the U. S. Capitol. The bus was leaving from the Moose Lodge in Belmont. “This is the last gasp we have to make an impression on these people and hopefully have them put enough pressure on Treasury to reject this plan,” said Colesworthy, who spent 38 years behind the wheel of a big rig, hauling freight across the country as a long-haul trucker. Colesworthy and hundreds of thousands of other Teamsters could see their pensions, managed by Central States Pension Fund, cut by 40 to 60 percent. The multiemployer pension fund has asked the federal Treasury and Labor departments for permission to slash pension payments to beneficiaries. A decision on whether the federal government will accept Central States’ plan could come May 7. When news first broke that Colesworthy could see his pension cut, the 74-year-old Cramerton resident returned to a previous job of driving a Gaston County Schools bus. He now buses students from Stuart Cramer High, Cramerton Middle and New Hope Elementary each school day. “I couldn’t take any chances,” Colesworthy said. Pension funds have long been able to cut benefits to active workers paying into plans, but it wasn’t until December 2014 that pension funds could seek to cut benefits for people already receiving benefits. The Multiemployer Pension Reform Act was attached at the last minute to the omnibus spending bill signed by President Barack Obama, which prevented a government shutdown in December 2014. The pension reform provision received little attention and no debate. “This is probably the most unfair piece of legislation that has ever been passed,” Colesworthy said. “This hurts working-class people who have always played by the rules.” U. S. Rep. Patrick McHenry has sat down with local Teamster retirees, but has not committed to any plan that would stop the cuts from taking place. “I’m continuing to review legislative proposals which address the cuts in hopes of finding a remedy that helps those impacted in a fiscally responsible way,” McHenry said in a previous statement released by his office. Different proposals have been offered to solve the problem, including one by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, although none appear to have the necessary support to get through Congress. No one denies that the Central States Pension Fund has problems. Right now, the fund pays out about $3.50 for every $1 being paid in. At that rate, the pension fund could go broke in five to 10 years. If the pension fund went broke, that would trigger a federal bailout, which could bankrupt the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.

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