WICHITA, Kan. – Efforts on Capitol Hill to rescue a pension plan for nearly 400,000 Americans are impacting former Teamsters Union workers here in Wichita.
These workers are faced with the threat of seeing their benefits slashed, in some cases by as much as 50 percent, by July 1, 2016.
“It’s like we’re dead now. They don’t care,” said Bill Tabing, a retired Boeing employee of 25 years and Teamsters Union member.
“It’s disgusting, is what it is,” Tabing continued.
“You put 30 years in, and it’s the [best] 30 years of your life… and now it’s just like, ‘the heck with ya.'”
There are several moving parts when considering the current financial state of the union’s Central States Pension Fund, concerning federal legislation and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a U.S. Government Agency.
KSN is trying to make sense of how this could be allowed to happen; how Americans who have invested in their pension plans for decades, like Tabing, could see their benefits cut so drastically.
The good news? Nothing is final yet in Washington.
U.S. representatives tell KSN News there will be a vote for union members to decide against the so-called ‘draft plan’ of restructuring of the pension, if they so choose. A date for that vote, however, has not been scheduled.
“At least if we’d a known it was going to happen, you could save for it. This way, it comes July 1 of next year. That’s it. You get half of your retirement, and I just don’t know how people can live off that and I don’t know how The Teamsters can just get away with it,” said Tabing.
Meanwhile, former employees like Tabing, are thinking about the hard work they put in to their pensions, all the while facing the looming deadline less than a year away.
“We were working on the docks, and in the winter time, if it’s zero degrees outside and you’re working in one of them stinkin’ trailers, it’s 35 degrees below in there,” said Tabing.
In 1974, Bill Tabing became a member of the local Teamsters Union. Of the 35 years he spent in the union, he spent the last 25 working for Boeing.
“They think we did that cause we loved the job?” asks Tabing. “No, we did that because we were trying to make a living for our kids and ourselves at the end of this thing.”
The 68-year-old has been retired for eight years. On Monday, Tabing received the letter with a looming warning: His benefits must be cut. For him, they would be cut by about half.
Tabing told KSN News he doesn’t know what to do. Bill is the father of five grown kids. He says he worked hard to provide for them, passing up pay raises in exchange for a better benefits package while working for Boeing.
“If we hadn’t taken all them benefits to put into our retirement, we’d have been making $35 – $40 an hour,” said Tabing.
In the meantime, Tabing says he’ll have to figure out something.
“It changes everything. I’ve thought about selling my house. If I have to, I’ll… I’ll go to painting houses everyday,” said Tabing.
Estimates are Bill Tabing could be one of as many as 1,000 Teamster Union members in the Wichita area. KSN asked for those numbers from representatives inside the local chapter Thursday, but were told they couldn’t give us that information.
We asked to speak with the union president, as well, and we were told he did not want to talk.
For additional information about the Central States Pension Fund Rescue Plan, click here.
To read about the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a U.S. Government Agency, click here.