May 06 2016
Senator Calls for a New Plan that is Fairer & Protects Retirement Security for North Dakotans
MINOT, N.D. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today said the U.S. Treasury Department made the right decision after it rejected proposed cuts that would slash the pension plans of 2,000 North Dakota families and 400,000 retirees nationwide by up to 60 percent.
Kenneth Feinberg – the Treasury official overseeing the restructuring of the pension plan – announced that the proposed cuts to the Central States Pension Fund aren’t a fair option for the workers and retirees who would be impacted. He noted that the proposed plan, which was not written in a way that an average participant could understand and was unevenly distributed among participants, failed to meet statutory standards required to make such cuts. The Central States Pension Fund is a multiemployer fund that covers a range of fields, including thousands of North Dakota workers and retirees in the trucking, UPS package delivery, and grocery supply industries.
The decision comes after Heitkamp pressed the Treasury Department for months to reject the proposed cuts. In February, she met with Feinberg and urged the department to take into account the serious concerns of North Dakota workers and retirees, provide more time to hear from them, and explore ways to better protect them from harsh cuts.
“Today, the Treasury Department made the right decision – protecting thousands of workers and retirees who worked hard for decades to make a living, support their families, and pay into the pensions they earned,” said Heitkamp. “We can and must find a solution that doesn’t jeopardize retirement security or present long-term insolvency issues to the Central States Fund. And we need to keep pressing for an option that is fairer to enable all North Dakota and American families to have the secure retirement they earned. These workers and retirees did everything right, and they deserve better than to have their retirement savings ripped away through no fault of their own.”
In January, Heitkamp called for Feinberg to visit North Dakota and hear from the retirees and their families who will be impacted. Last December, she pressed U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to thoroughly consider workers and retirees as the Treasury Department reviews proposed cuts to the pension plan.
Over several months, Heitkamp has worked with the Teamsters and North Dakota workers and retirees who are participants in the Central States Pension Fund to press for options from the U.S. Treasury Department that don’t include unnecessary cuts to benefits. Last week, Heitkamp spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate to push the U.S. Treasury Department to reject the proposed harsh cuts. She joined retirees and workers at a rally in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. to push back against cuts. Heitkamp also recently met with Teamsters and union workers in Bismarck and Fargo to discuss the proposed cuts.