Letter to the President

Letter to the President

Dear Mr. President:  

No one thinks you have an easy job or that you are going to do "the right thing" for all of the people all of the time.  But your signing of legislation allowing companies involved in multiemployer pension plans to arbitrarily cut the pensions of retired former employees when their pension funds are in trouble (or the PBGC is in trouble) will literally place many of those people at the poverty level. (See "Congress Passes Law Allowing Employers to Cut Pension Benefits")

After all, those pensions are based on contracts negotiated in good faith — and the fact that companies (and governmental units) did not properly fund the pension funds over the years is not the fault of those retirees.

No one in the Congress has offered a bill cutting the pensions of its members, who don't have to work 30 or more years to get full benefits.  I could go on, but you get the idea.  This just seems to be another cut at the nation's workers who are under attack by major employers who want to take us back to "the good old days" when they had complete control of the workplace — and workers had no choice but their way or the highway. It's nice to emphasize the importance of a college education, but the number of "average" workers is far greater than those who will go on to college and no one seems to be looking out for the working man or woman.

The factories that offered employment to high school graduates are gone (to countries that supply cheap labor) and even a college degree doesn't guarantee a decent job — or any job, for that matter.  I am not an expert on any of the above, but I have lived through "interesting times," including World War II and all of the wars that followed, and in my judgment we are retrogressing to those times when the major conflicts confronting our nation were not with foreign governments, but between major employers and their workers.  You are too young to have lived through those days, but they were not pretty.

And, although money has certainly corrupted the governmental process more than at any other time in the past, it's not a new phenomenon.  During the days of the big trusts, every major industry (shipping, railroads, steel, banking, etc.) had their "man in Congress."   

To sum up, working Americans are not only frustrated, they are scared by the events and trends they see playing out on a daily basis — and they don't think they have anyone on their side. Your signing of the legislation on multiemployer pension plans just emphasizes that impression.


Beau Weisman, Editor