FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Pension Rights

Over thirty years ago, I started the Pension Rights Center which concerned itself with such issues as shortening the time of corporate pensions vesting or improving their portability for job-changing employees. No one nightmared that companies would dramatically cut their contributions to these defined benefit plans during years of economic growth and record company profits. That is not the least of a trail of broken promises by these vastly overpaid corporate executives (with their gigantic special pensions) to their loyal workers.

Recently, employees from some major corporations highlighted some of the tricky ways these bosses are betraying the people who made their companies perform and profit. Under the name of the “Ad Hoc Coalition to Restore Retirement Security,” five broken promises were described.

First, companies broke promises to older employees by unfairly changing plan rules. AT&T, for example, was one of several large firms, to switch to a “cash balance” pension plan costing long-service salaried employees as much as half of their expected pensions. The employees want a federal law change to give them a “choice at retirement between receiving their promised pensions and those offered under any new rules.”

Second, Dresser-Rand was a division of Halliburton until the parent company sold it. Seemed pretty routine. Later, the Dresser employees learned that a loophole in the law allowed Halliburton to shift the pension funds into a plan for its own employees. This maneuver left the spun-off employees without their full early retirement pensions. They want to end the loophole where pensions can be devastated merely by selling a subsidiary to another owner.

Third, companies break pension promises to older employees by reclassifying them as independent contractors. Allstate did this to their insurance agents, who were on staff. The agents fought back, filing a law suit claiming that Allstate unlawfully deprived them of much of their pensions.

Fourth, GM resorted to the “fine print” to cutback or even cancel lifetime health insurance for its retirees if they accepted early retirement packages. Changing the rules after people have retired should be prohibited, say these workers.

Fifth, MCI/WorldCom employees trusted their executives when told that the company stock was a sound investment for their 401(k) plans. Actually, these executives knew the company was inflating its books while these bosses were selling their own company stock at the same time. Once again, gaps in the law need to be filled to allow for full remedies against such self-enriching deception at the top.

Obviously, these are devastating times for millions of workers who retired believing and found out that their company leaders were lying. One wonders why Congress is taking so long to amending the federal pension laws to prevent such sabotage of loyal workers. But then, the bosses are more likely to get their calls returned by many members of Congress than these employees.

But these veteran employees have organized. They need to expand their organizations to other companies where workers face similar trapdoors.

For further information, go to www.pensions-r-us.org

 

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail