ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin retirees need to contact politicians and “get in their face in Washington” to stop proposed pension cuts, according to a leader of a group campaigning against the cuts.
More than 300 retired Teamsters attended a meeting Saturday in Ashwaubenon for an update on the fight against the Central States Pension Fund’s request to cut pension payments to remain solvent, Green Bay Press-Gazette Media reported.
At issue is a 2014 law that allows pension plans to request federal approval to cut payouts if the payments significantly exceed the fund’s income. The Teamsters and AARP opposed the law when it passed as part of a government-wide spending bill. But other unions saw it as a solution preferable to plans becoming insolvent and getting a federal bailout.
The Central States Pension Plan filed an application with the U.S. Treasury last year to implement a plan to stay solvent. That could mean deep cuts to some participants.
An estimated 40,000 retired Teamsters in Wisconsin would be affected by the cuts.
Bob Amsden, co-chairman of the Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions, told people in Saturday’s crowd to fight for their rights.
“(Politicians are) trying to steal it, and the only way they’re going to understand is if we get in their face in Washington,” Amsden said.
The other co-chair, Bernie Anderson, said retirees need to mobilize quickly. Anderson urged them to send letters to members of the Senate Finance Committee in the next two weeks before the panel takes up the issue.
In addition to a letter-writing campaign, the committee to protect pensions has hired lobbyists and is planning a demonstration in Washington in April.
“Legislation got us into this mess. It’s the only thing that can get us out,” Anderson said.
Pat McKenney, a 64-year-old retired truck driver from Green Bay, said the prospect of losing half his pension makes him nervous about being able to afford his home. But he said the campaign by his fellow Teamsters to stop the cuts gives him hope.
“These guys are pushing for it hard, and I’m going to be calling my congressmen, too,” McKenney said.