Protecting pensions and saving jobs is the top priority of the Teamsters Union, which has launched a grassroots offensive to win pension relief from Congress, General President Jim Hoffa told trustees this week.
Teamster trustees from across the nation met in Scottsdale, Ariz., at the annual Trustee Education Conference to strategize about tackling the funding pressures facing all pension plans because of the financial crisis. General Secretary-Treasurer Tom Keegel also addressed the conference.
"We have devoted thousands of hours and held dozens of meetings with the White House and Congress to fight for pension relief," Hoffa said. "We're making a lot of progress, but we need your help to fix the pension problem in this country."
Thanks to that outreach, two bills have been introduced in Congress that would provide pension relief. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is sponsoring the "Create Jobs and Save Benefits Act of 2010," which would change funding rules so employers won't have to make payments that could force them into bankruptcy. Employers can use the savings to hire and retain workers.
In the House, Reps. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, have introduced a similar bill.
General Secretary-Treasurer Tom Keegel urged trustees to get involved and to help mobilize Teamsters.
"We need your commitment and leadership now more than ever," Keegel said. "You're on the front line in this battle. We can't sit around and wait for Congress to do the right thing. We must demand that our needs are heard and met."
Members are encouraged to visit the union's new web page, where they can access pension tools, information and an online petition.