Contrary to reports, the Maple City Ice Company is not taking the pensions away from the eight employees who went out on strike on September 1. There is nothing we would like more than to see these 8 employees receive the pension they earned through Central States. These 8 employees do not belong to Maple City Ice’s pension plan, they belong to the Teamsters Union Multi-Employer Central States Pension Fund, which they have chosen to contribute to for many years. However, the Central States Pension Fund is quickly going broke.
This year, the Trustees of the Central States Pension Fund notified both employers and employees that the Fund has a deficit of over $22 billion, and will have to cut benefits or be bailed out by Congress in the near future to survive. Currently, employers are required to make up the unfunded portion of the Central States Plan for their own employees if we withdraw from the Plan. Our unfunded liability for these 8 employees is over $3 million and goes up dramatically each year.
As hundreds of other companies have done, our hope is to withdraw from the Plan and pay the unfunded liability, which preserves the benefits they have earned to date, and provide our employees with an additional form of pension benefit going forward so they are not throwing good money down a rabbit hole.
With the help of our loyal non-union employees we have been able to carry on our day to day operations. Recently, we signed a new 5-year contract with the Teamsters covering our Lorain drivers. After the Lorain drivers crossed the picket line the first week of the Norwalk strike and delivered beer as usual, the union rep met with the Lorain drivers on Sunday, September 10. As a result, for some unknown reason, none of these drivers showed up for work Monday, September 11. The Lorain drivers bargained out of the Central States Pension Fund five years ago.
The latest funding notification letter to the employers and employees from the Central States Pension Fund that outlines the status of their Fund is available on this website.