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Dingell leads coalition against Teamster pension cuts

DetroitNews

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell is leading a bipartisan coalition of 89 representatives in asking the U.S. Treasury Department to reject a Central States Pension Fund request to cut retiree benefits.

It’s one of the largest Teamster pension funds that includes 30,000 members in Michigan. If approved, the proposal sparked by the Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 would impact 273,000 current and future retirees, Dingell’s office said in a statement Tuesday that said the cuts could be as high as 70 percent.

In Kline-Miller, Congress established a new process for certain multiemployer pension plans to propose a temporary or permanent reduction of pension benefits if a plan is projected to run out of money before paying all promised benefits.

“This is an issue of fundamental fairness,” Dingell said. “These employees worked a lifetime thinking they would have a pension to retire on, and now they don’t know what they will live on. These cuts would have a devastating impact on workers, retirees, families and whole communities and we should make every effort to ensure workers receive the benefits they’ve earned.”

Kenneth Feinberg, a compensation fund specialist who worked with victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and GM's ignition defect, is coming to Detroit on Monday to host a public meeting set by the Treasury Department on proposed benefit cuts. The department is required to review the application and determine whether it meets the requirements set by Congress.

“We do not believe placing an inordinate burden on middle-class workers and retirees is the only option for Central States,” Dingell and her colleagues said in the letter. “For these reasons and more, we urge the Treasury Department to deny this application and move forward with a more equitable solution.”