The U.S. Treasury Department has rescheduled the Minneapolis town hall meeting on proposed benefit cuts to the Central States Pension Fund to Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 4:30 p.m. at the University of Minnesota’s Coffman Memorial Union.
The meeting was originally set for Jan. 25 but was postponed due to the East Coast snowstorm.
Trustees of the giant Teamsters pension fund want to reduce benefits for 272,600 people around the country by an average of 34 percent, with some cuts totaling 60 percent or more. The proposal would cut the benefits of nearly 15,000 people in Minnesota, many of whom are already retired and living on the monthly pension checks.
Trustees of the $17 billion Central States fund argue that slashing benefits is a last-ditch move to save the fund from becoming insolvent. Rank-and-file members, many of them retired truckers, question the necessity and decry the cuts as a betrayal.
The Central States fund was the first multiemployer pension fund to seek benefits cuts under the Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014. The law allows pension plans in “critical and declining” status — those expected to run out of money in less than 15 or in some cases 20 years — to cut benefits already being paid to retirees. The act creates an exception to the federal rules that protect the accrued benefits of active pension plans.
The Minneapolis session follows similar town halls with Kenneth Feinberg, the Treasury appointee overseeing the cutback process, held in Columbus, Ohio; Milwaukee; Greensboro, N.C; Peoria, Ill; and Indianapolis.
Treasury has extended the public comment period to Feb. 1. It must approve or deny the cuts by May.
Two other pension plans have followed suit. Trustees for the Teamsters Local 469 Pension Plan in Hazlet, N.J., and the Iron Workers Local 17 Pension Fund in Cleveland, Ohio, have also applied to Treasury to cut core retiree benefits.