NY teamsters pension runs out of money… ‘pension tsunami’ is coming?
From The NY Daily News:
In the backseat of his beat-up car, Tim Chmil stashes what he refers to as his new retirement fund — bags and bags of recyclable bottles and cans.
Every time he spots a bottle on the street, he bends down to pick it up.
“Even if it’s just 5 cents, it’s money, and I need it,” the 71-year-old said.
It’s not the way the ex-trucker — a member of Teamsters Local 707 — expected to fund his senior years.
Chmil is one of roughly 4,000 retired Teamsters across New York State suffering a fate that could soon hit millions of working-class Americans — the loss of their union pensions.
Teamsters Local 707’s pension fund is the first to officially bottom out financially — which happened this month.
“I had a union job for 30 years,” Chmil said. “We had collectively bargained contracts that promised us a pension. I paid into it with every paycheck. Everyone told us, ‘Don’t worry, you have a union job, your pension is guaranteed.’ Well, so much for that.”
Also on the brink of drying up are the pensions for two Teamster locals — 641 and 560 — in New Jersey, union officials said. Plus 35,000 Teamster members upstate who are part of the money-hemorrhaging New York State Teamsters Pension Fund.
Bigger than all of New York’s Teamster locals combined is the Central States Pension Fund — another looming financial disaster that could leave 407,000 retirees without pensions across the Midwest and South.
And there’s still more beyond that, in various industries, officials say.
“It’s a nightmare, it has just devastated all of our lives. I’ve gone from having $48,000 a year to less than half that,” said Chmil, one of five Local 707 retirees who agreed to share their stories with the Daily News last week.
“I don’t want other people to have to go through this. We need everyone to wake up and do something; that’s why we’re talking,” said Ray Narvaez.
Narvaez, 77, got a union certificate upon retirement in 2003 that guaranteed him a lifetime pension of $3,479 a month.
The former short-haul trucker — who carried local freight around the city — started hearing talk in 2008 of sinking finances in his union’s pension fund.
But the monthly checks still came — including a bonus “13th check” mailed from the union without fail every Dec. 15.
Then Narvaez, like 4,000 other retired Teamster truckers, got a letter from Local 707 in February of last year.
It said monthly pensions had to be slashed by more than a third. It was an emergency move to try to keep the dying fund solvent. That dropped Narvaez from nearly $3,500 to about $2,000.
“They said they were running out of money, that there could be no more in the pension fund, so we had to take the cut,” said Narvaez, whose wife was recently diagnosed with cancer.
The stopgap measure didn’t work — and after years of dangling over the precipice, Local 707’s pension fund fell off the financial cliff this month. With no money left, it turned to Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a government insurance company that covers pension.
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. picked up Local 707’s retiree payouts — but the maximum benefit it gives a year is roughly $12,000, for workers who racked up at least 30 years. For those with less time on the job, the payouts are smaller.
Narvaez now gets $1,170 a month — before taxes.
Ex-trucker Edward Hernandez, 67, went from $2,422 a month to $1,465 last year. As of this month, his gross check is $902. After federal taxes, it’s $721 — but he still has to pay state and city taxes.
“We have guys on Long Island who are losing their houses, the taxes are so high out there,” Hernandez said.
Crux note: This is just the beginning of a massive crisis among pension funds. Our own Dr. David Eifrig just released a brand-new urgent investor report on this budding crisis — including his best recommendations for supplementing your income and avoiding running out of money in retirement. Get all the shocking details right here.