By Karen Friedman
Last week, the news came in that workers and retirees voted in favor of pension cuts by the New York State Teamsters Pension Fund.
But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that the vote results are tainted. Because if you look at ballots cast, the workers and retirees overwhelmingly voted against the cuts (71% of votes cast were against cuts; 29% votes were in favor of cuts). However, the way the vote was structured anybody who DIDN’T cast a ballot – was counted as a yes vote. Because 60% of the ballots were not returned, this flipped the vote. As a result of this distorted counting system, 72% of the votes were now in favor of cuts, and 28% were against. The raw vote count can be seen here.
How can the vote be so rigged? Under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA) ballots that are not returned will be automatically counted as votes in favor of benefit cuts. Last year legislation was introduced that would fix the specific voting problems, however the legislation did not pass.
But just fixing the voting process is not enough. MPRA is a bad bill and the cut-back provisions, including these ridiculously unjust voting provisions, have to be repealed. Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Marci Kaptur introduced the Keep Our Pension Promises Act to repeal the cut-back provisions and we expect other legislation to be introduced very soon. We will keep you informed as we hear more.