Union Members Protest to Save Pensions

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- About 100 people gathered outside the Springfield UPS terminal on North Nias Street Thursday morning, to protest potential cuts to their union pensions.

The demonstration was organized by the Springfield and Kansas City Committee to Protect Pensions, over fears that the federal government could allow the slashing of union pension programs by 20-percent.

Thursday's rally was an effort to bring awareness to lawmakers and persuade them to stop the proposed cuts. 

Wes Epperson, a member of the Teamsters and co-chair of the committee, is one of the younger retirees at the rally.  His pension is part of the Central States Pension Fund, which covers about 400,000 union members nationwide.

A year ago, fund managers asked the U.S. Treasury for permission to reduce the monthly pension checks for current retirees by more than half,  in order to save the fund from collapse.  That plan was ultimately rejected.  Fund managers still expect to run out of money within a decade.

Epperson says the potential cuts may have a prolonged effect on his future. 

"I've got a mortgage, a car payment. All those normal things that middle class people have. Although, immediately it might not devastate me, in the future, who knows? Who knows if five years from now they wont be back wanting another 20 percent?"

Epperson and other committee members met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in July to discuss possible fixes to the crisis.

Senator Claire McCaskill is currently working with the Teamsters.  She helped set up the Washington meeting with Mnuchin.


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