Local News

Pensions go in reverse for former UPS drivers

Posted June 15, 2016 5:36 p.m. EDT
Updated June 16, 2016 7:11 p.m. EDT

— An estimated 13,000 people in North Carolina are at risk of losing some, if not all, of their pension money – a potential $125 million annual loss to the state’s economy.

Retirees now stand to lose the most as a result.

Former Allied Systems and UPS drivers that contributed to a multi-company pension plan will now see their retirement funds go in reverse.

Danny Eason, a retired UPS driver who spent 36 years with the company, said his pension check is projected to be cut by 61 percent.

“What we’ve discovered is we’re ready to retire or have retired and the money’s not going to be there,” Eason said. “We’re going to get screwed.”

Eason is one of more than 8,000 former UPS employees whose retirement money was handled by the Central States Pension Fund, which also represents workers from multiple transportation companies.

When Congress deregulated the trucking industry in the 1980s, many companies went under and stopped contributing to the pension fund.

“We worked all those years; we funded our pension,” said Tommy Burke. “It’s not an unfunded promise. We funded our pensions, so it’s a broken promise.”

Burke said he had already retired when UPS chose to leave Central States and decided to handle pension internally.
The package delivery company put $6 billion in the fund to cover its retirees, much of which is going to retired works of other companies that didn’t chip in as much.

“We’re going to go from having a decent standard of living to shopping for cat food,” Eason said.

With more workers retiring and fewer employees joining the fund, Central State is paying out $3.46 in pension money for every dollar it brings in. At the current rate, the fund is losing $2 billion a year.

“You ought not to throw us under the bus because you changed the system,” said UPS retiree, Frank Bryant. “You owe us because that’s our money that you’re supposed to be paying us back.”

In 2014, Congress passed a law that allows the fund to cut pensions legally. However, the U.S. Treasury recently rejected the Central States plan, which means workers like Eason could see their pensions totally disappear in a matter of years.

“If that law isn’t repealed this thing that’s happening to the UPS retirees and other people in our group will set a legal precedent so that every pension plan in the U.S. can be abolished,” Eason said.

Now UPS workers across the state and country are urging North Carolina lawmakers to pressure Congress into changing what they believe is a broken law.

“This is income to North Carolina. They need to step up as elected officials and say, ‘We’re going to be leaders, we’re not going to let this happen to our citizens in our state,’” Eason said.

WRAL News reached out to several members of Congress from North Carolina but only received a response from Senator Richard Burr.

Burr and several other senators sent a letter to the U.S. Treasury asking to protect pensions.