Will Teamsters' pensions be saved?

Mike Walden has worked to protect Teamsters' pensions from cuts proposed by the Central States Pension Fund. Listen to the hints he says suggest Kenneth Feinberg will reject the proposed cuts in a ruling next week for the U.S. Treasury. (Video by
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Mike Walden has worked to protect Teamsters' pensions from cuts proposed by the Central States Pension Fund. Listen to the hints he says suggest Kenneth Feinberg will reject the proposed cuts in a ruling next week for the U.S. Treasury. (Video by
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Kenneth Feinberg: No Teamsters pension decision, yet

By Mark Davis

mdavis@kcstar.com

May 02, 2016 10:44 AM

Regardless of what you’ve been told or heard or saw, Kenneth Feinberg has not yet decided the fate of hundreds of thousands of retired Teamsters’ pensions, the noted mediator said Monday.

Feinberg has been charged by the U.S. Treasury to decide whether the Central States Pension Fund has complied with a controversial 2014 law in proposing cuts to retirees’ monthly checks in a bid to prevent the fund’s collapse. Many of the proposed pension cuts are by half or more. His decision is due Saturday.

“No decision has yet been made,” Feinberg said Monday morning. “A decision must be made by law by May 7th.”

Feinberg responded to a claim from an Illinois retiree that someone in Feinberg’s office told him Monday morning that the decision had been made but was not yet public. Charles Gurdette said he “tried to smooth-talk” the decision out of the woman but to no luck.

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The noted mediator who handled the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund also rejected “hints” he reportedly gave others that he was going to reject Central States’ proposal.

“There are no hints,” Feinberg said. “There is no anticipated reading of the tea leaves.”

Word of hints from Feinberg surfaced Friday in a talk Mike Walden gave a group of Teamster retirees in Independence. Walden is an Ohio retiree who has spent much of his time in Washington fighting the proposed cuts and the 2014 law.

Feinberg said he has spoken to Walden but rejected the idea he has given hints to Walden or anyone or that any decision has been made.

Others have contended that there will be a delay between Feinberg’s decision and its public release because of documentation and other requirements once the decision is made. Feinberg also rejected this.

“Until all of that documentation and all of that corroboration is prepared, there is no decision,” Feinberg said. “It’s all linked, it’s all one thing.”

Feinberg has said his decision looks only at whether Central States’ proposal meets the requirements set out in the 2014 law that makes cuts to existing pension checks possible. The law allows cuts when the fund itself is in critical and declining condition.

Central States has said it will run out of money in about a decade unless the cuts are approved or it is able to gain $11 billion in additional funding. It held $16.1 billion in net assets at the end of December.

Mark Davis: 816-234-4372, on Twitter @mdkcstar