Union Workers at Risk of Losing Half of Pension Benefits

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PLEASANT HILL, Iowa — For thousands of active and retired union workers, their futures may look drastically different from what they had originally planned, and they claim their pension fund program is to blame.

The Central States Pension Fund is expected to go bankrupt within the next 10 years, leaving union workers at risk of having their pension plans cut by up to 70 percent each month.

On Sunday, dozens of members of Teamsters Local 238 chapter met to discuss the issue.

Bob Vignovich, 70, drove semi’s for 24 years. He retired nine years ago with a stable pension in mind but that could change.

“I worked 50 to 60 hours a week and that`s what all of us had to do,” he said. “It was good money but that`s how you got what you got and then to see it go away like this, it`s pretty depressing.”

The pension cuts are scheduled to go into effect July 1. The reduction plan would cut Vigovich’s pension from $1,150 a month to just under $500 a month.

The retiree says he and his wife will have no choice but to move out of the house they have lived in for 25 years and downsize to a townhome.

He and other union members say the news came out of nowhere and with no warning.

“Before you retire, it’s easy to put a little away when you know there`s a cut coming,” said Vignovich. “But once you retire, you sit on a fixed amount of dollars.”

Allegations of corruption and misuse of money by the Central States is said to be to part of the blame for the cuts.

Earlier this month, Senator Chuck Grassley asked the government accountability office to review federal oversite of the issue.

Grassley told The Des Moines Register:

“Central States plan beneficiaries deserve to have a better understanding of what led to the financial failings of Central States and ultimately put their retirement at risk.

“Congress also needs to have a better understanding of what happened so that any corrective actions, if necessary, can be taken.”

Sometime between now and July, union members will have a chance to vote against this proposal.

The group plans to rally at the State Capitol on March 31 from 3-5:30 p.m.

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