September 13, 2017 5:15 PM, EDT

New York Teamsters Pension Cuts to Take Effect Despite 2-1 Opposing Vote

Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS

The U.S. Treasury Department on Sept. 13 announced that active and retired Teamsters across upstate New York had voted against big pension reductions by better than a 2-1 ratio.

But since most of the 34,000-plus eligible Teamsters didn’t vote — and under federal law, an unreturned ballot counts as a “yes” vote — the cuts are approved, and will take effect Oct. 1.

For most retired Teamsters, this will mean a 29% reduction in their pension checks. The oldest retirees and those receiving disability pensions will not see any reductions. Teamsters still working will see a 19% reduction in the pension benefits promised to them when they do retire.

The New York State Teamsters Conference Pension and Retirement Fund identified 35,173 participants and beneficiaries who were eligible to vote, and ballots were delivered to 34,636 of these individuals. (The other 537 could not be located.)

The voting period opened Aug. 16 and closed Sept. 6.

There were 9,788 ballots returned against the pension cuts and 4,081 in favor; the other 20,767 ballots sent out were not returned.

Under the federal Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014, a non-vote is counted as a “yes” vote.

The Teamsters leadership has blamed a shrinking unionized workforce and pension law changes for their pension fund’s problems, and said reducing the amount of money paid is crucial to preventing its insolvency.

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