Should Anchorage Taxpayers Bail Out Teamster Pension Fund?

The Anchorage School Board is considering adopting the proposed union contract renewal with Teamsters Local 959 (bus drivers/attendants) which will require the taxpayer to help bail out an underfunded Teamster Pension Fund. Why should we be called on to bail out a mismanaged fund which our employees probably will not benefit from? Why should we fund two pension funds for our employees? Why should we fund any non-government pension fund when we have no control over the management of the fund? Doesn’t the School District have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure these taxpayer funds are managed properly?

In previous contracts the District has agreed to pay $1.00 for each hour of compensation earned by an employee with six or less years of service; the District must fund $2.00/hour for all other employees. For the former employees this is an average contribution rate of about 6% and for the latter employees this is an average contribution rate of about 10%.  What are the employees to expect from the taxpayer contributions to this “pension plan”? Maybe nothing. The contract states that:  “It is the intention of the parties that the employees be covered by both pension plans”. This does not bode well for the employees because the Alaska Teamster Employer Pension Trust has not been managed well enough to ensure benefits for these employees. The “intent” is not binding enough to provide employees any benefits.

The Teamster Union has slipped an additional penalty on the taxpayers in the following language:

“The District agrees to pay, in accordance with the Pension Protection Act, an
employer supplemental contribution required due to the critical status designation of
the Alaska Teamster Employer Pension Trust. The amount of supplemental
contribution will be 14% for 2012-2013, 24% for 2013-2014, and 34% for 2014-2015.
If the plan emerges from rehabilitation during the term of this agreement, the
amount of supplemental contribution contributed by the District will remain the
same as listed above.”

So, because the Teamster Pension Trust has not been managed properly and in a financially responsible manner, the taxpayer must ante up even more to ensure the viability of the fund? The applicability of the Pension Protection Act  is questionable in this case. It appears to apply mainly to non-public employers. No member of the School Board should vote for this unless they want to increase the student/teacher ratio, decrease planning time for teachers, do away with summer school and generally decrease classroom education for our kids.

It’s time to let the School Board know that we cannot stand the funneling of taxpayer dollars into a union pension fund with no accountability and, more importantly, no benefits for our employees. For more information go to: . Call or email your School Board member or testify tonight (September 6) at the Board meeting.