Apr 14 2016
Senator Calls for Treasury Department to Reject Pension Cuts & Better Protect Retirement Savings of Thousands of North Dakotans
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today joined workers and retirees from North Dakota and across the country during a rally in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. to push back against proposed cuts to the retirement savings of thousands of North Dakotans.
Heitkamp called on the U.S. Treasury Department to reject the harsh cuts to the Central States Pension Fund, which will impact more than 2,000 North Dakota families. Under the current proposal, many North Dakota retirees could see up to a 60 percent cut to their pensions, despite a lifetime of contributing to their pensions and playing by the rules. The Treasury Department is expected to complete its review of the proposed cuts in May and decide whether the cuts can go into effect as proposed.
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. It is trying to cut retirees’ benefits and remain financially viable.
“These workers and retirees did everything right. They responsibly planned for the future, only to have their retirement ripped away,” said Heitkamp. “This is simply unfair and inconsistent with our country’s values. If this plan moves forward as proposed, it would have a devastating impact on hundreds of thousands of workers and their families, both in North Dakota and across the heartland of our country. They worked tirelessly their entire lives, enduring physically demanding jobs, and contributing to their pensions over the course of many years so they could earn a pension and retire with security. We need to reward hard work, not look past or devalue working individuals and families, and that means pushing back against these severe cuts by pressing the Treasury Department and Congress to act.”
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. In February, she met Kenneth Feinberg – the lead official at the U.S. Treasury Department mediating the proposed cuts – 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.
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.