When UPS set up the UPS/IBT Full Time Pension Plan for employees covered by the Central States Plan (CS), it covered active employees only. You have to work at least one day after Jan 1. 2008 to go with UPS out of CS and into the new UPS/IBT Plan. People who retired before Jan 1, 2008, or for any reason were not able to work one day after that date remain in the Central States Plan.
For those who went into the new plan, UPS will pay their pension until they reach the age of 65, then most of it (about 90%) will fall back on Central States. At that point, retirees will get 2 checks one from UPS and one from CS. If Central States is not in good shape and cannot meet their obligations to these retirees, then UPS will make up the difference to guarantee your full pension amount for the rest of your life. UPS is assuming this obligation until age 65 to remove retirees from the CS re-employment restrictions, which are quite severe. Those restrictions are removed at CS at age 65. It was one of the selling points to get UPSers to accept the UPS pension plan.
Those who remained in the CS Plan and did not go to the UPS/IBT Plan are at the mercy of Central States and their full pension amount is not guaranteed. Under the Pension Reform Act of 2006, Central States will never be allowed to fold up and let their obligations fall on the Govt Pension Guar. Corp. Central States will always have to remain in existence and pay pensions at whatever level they can afford. It could be the full amounts or any percentage thereof.
So for retirees who voted for the new Pension Plan and will retire under the new Plan, it’s a pretty good deal. It guarantees a full pension for life. But what about oour brothers and sisters who retired prior to Jan. 1, 2008? They stay with CS and have no guarantees.
Should we have stayed with Central States and rejected the UPS offer?
The problem with staying in Central States as opposed to going with the new UPS/IBT Pension Plan is that if we stayed in CS and CS went down, we would go down with it. I have always felt that I will outlive CS. That means I feel that by the time I reach 65 or 70 or 75, CS will no longer be paying full pensions. The new UPS/IBT Pension guarantees my full amount for life. That is a better deal for me as I go into my golden years.
Central States unfortunately does not have a good track record for being healthy. They have already reduced the amounts members accrue towards their pension. They do continue at this time to pay out full pension amounts, but not at the amounts the did prior to 2003. In 2003, they reduced the accrual amounts to about 85 cents on the dollar, with a 6% per year early retirement penalty. So if you retired at 57 with 30 years today, instead of $3000 a month, you would recieve about $2650. You would get the $100 for each year of service up to 2003 (24 years) but only about $85 a month for the last 6 which accrued after 2003 and that amount would be reduce by 6% for each year you were under 62 or 36% of the $85. So people accruing a significant amount of their pension after 2003 would get a lot less than the expected $3000 at 30 and out, especially if they were under the age of 62.
The cost of insurance from CS, which UPS matched both coverage and cost to retirees, was upped in 2003 from $50 to $255 a person and set to increase $50 each year until you reach Medicare age. So for you and the wife, it would be 510/month the first year, then $610 next year and so on. If you retired at 57, by the time you reached Medicare age it would be $1400 a month. Under the UPS/IBT Pension, the same insurance is $200/person guaranteed not to increase for the life of the contract.
Even more scary, last year CS sent a letter out to all participants (which officially we still are) saying that despite the infusion of cash from the UPS buyout, they were slipping into the dreaded Red Zone and would be forced to make cutbacks again because of the requirements of the 2006 Pension Reform Act which say they must stay viable and cannot fold. One area that they were looking at for cutbacks was eliminating the ‘and out’ language, meaning you could retire at 57 but could not pull a penny of your pension until you reached retirement age of 65. For anyone looking to get out of UPS before the age of 65, that would mean finding alternate employment until you reach retirement age and could begin receiving your pension. That would be totally unacceptable.
Central States once had 115 companies paying in to the fund, they are now down to less than 20. UPS felt that under the new 2006 Pension laws that say active companies in any underfunded plan must pony up more money, they were going to be left holding the bag for Central States. All the retirees from all the folded companies still get their pensions and the 20 companies still standing have to fund those pensions plus their own. So UPS wanted out. And as you can surely see, the guanantees and the insurance costs to retirees were a good deal for UPS employees voting in December of 2007. It not only restored the full pension amounts ($100 per year for 57 and older) but also guaranteed a defined benefit amount for life. And the insurance was cheaper.
Did UPSers sell out their own UPS brothers and sisters who retired prior to 2008? There was surely no reason to hang with the ailing Central States other than Brotherhood.
Granted, Brotherhood is a noble cause. It’s the very foundation of unionism.
But at what price??