The U.S. Treasury has scheduled a Jan. 25 town hall meeting in Minneapolis for feedback on the drastic benefit cuts sought by trustees of the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund.
It’s the latest stop for Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer at Treasury overseeing a cutback process created by the 2014 Multiemployer Pension Reform Act, a controversial law allowing certain financially stressed plans to cut benefits already being paid to retirees.
The $17 billion Central States fund is the first multiemployer pension plan to seek cutbacks under the law. Treasury has extended the public comment period to Feb. 1. It must approve or deny the cuts by May.
About 272,600 fund members could see their pension benefits slashed. In Minnesota, the proposed cuts would hit nearly 15,000 Teamsters, almost 6,000 of whom are already retired and living on the monthly pension checks.
The cuts in Minnesota would average 32 percent, according to the Central States fund, in line with the national average of 34 percent. Some cuts, however, could be 60 percent or more.
Dave Erickson, 58, a retired dock worker in Isanti and co-founder of Minnesota Committee to Protect Pensions, said he expects hundreds to turn out. “Everybody’s very upset,” he said.
The Central States fund has been plagued by trouble for years. Deregulation of the trucking industry threw the pension into upheaval, as has the general decline in union membership and decline in employers paying into the plan. Other factors have played a role, including poor investment decisions that cost it billions.
The meeting is 4 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 25 at Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington Av. SE, Minneapolis, on the University of Minnesota’s campus.