I first mentioned Carol’s plight in August 2018 when her story was brought to my attention. As you may recall, Carol was a retired Teamster who had been promised a benefit for life upon taking early retirement. Regrettably, her union plan (Local 805) filed for benefit relief under MPRA and was granted that relief effective January 1, 2019. The impact on her financially has been harsh. The psychological impact may be more damaging.

Ron Ryan and I continue to run around the country bringing Carol’s and other’s stories to one conference after another (IFEBP, Opal, MIA, etc.) in an attempt to put a face on the pension crisis that is unfolding in our country. We find it shameful, and totally unacceptable, that we have legislation that permits the rug to be pulled out from under the feet of these retirees who worked hard every day believing that their hard work would be rewarded with a pension in retirement. But, through no fault of their own, that promise has not been kept.

I’m also guilty of not providing more frequent updates as to the impact that these decisions are having on the lives of people like Carol. For instance, the following was shared on Facebook several months ago.

“Hi everyone,
I haven’t been too active on the site lately…mainly because I started shutting down when the reality of a FOR SALE sign was stuck in my front lawn. I do my best thinking in the middle of the night, so last night I wrote down what I was feeling. I sent it to Russ Kamp and Karen Ferguson of Pension rights. I don’t know if I should send it anywhere else. I am pasting it in this message for some advice. Thanks, Carol
Carol Podesta-Smallen
Thu 8/22/2019 1:38 AM
  • R Kamp;
  • Karen Ferguson
I am 8 months into my $1,578.00 monthly pension cut and I’ve completely depleted my savings. My house has been on the market for 1 month, I have been looking for an apartment to rent because, as my brother pointed out, no one will give me a mortgage because I don’t make enough money. But now it seems I am going to have a problem even renting because once they do a check on my income and see how little I make per month, there will be fear that I won’t be able to pay my monthly rent! I have tried to find out where I stand in the Section 8 line, and was told that the information I seek is not available to me…once again I ask, where do I go from here? I really prayed that this would be resolved by now, but it’s not, and that word SHELTER keeps popping into my head. All I did by draining my savings account was to put off the inevitable. I think I faked myself into thinking all was well by keeping up with the payments, and now that there is nothing left, all the fear came rushing back. A mental breakdown is not out of the question, as I think malfunction is the only way an overloaded brain can stop.

Time and again I’ve been told that I’m not alone… why then, do I feel so alone?…just like a needle in a haystack.


Carol Podesta-Smallen
Local 805

We cannot allow these cuts to continue. Legislation needs to be enacted immediately before this punishment is levied onto others who are in plans that are designated as Critical and Declining. As you know, H.R. 397 (the Butch Lewis Act) was passed in July 2019. It has sat in the Senate since. Every month that goes by jeopardizes the financial future for nearly 1.4 million pension participants that reside in pension systems that are teetering on the brink of failure. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right! Each month of delay increases the likelihood of more failures while increasing the cost of corrective action by roughly $750 million per month (Cheiron). How is this acceptable to anyone?

3 thoughts on “Appalling!

  1. We need to vote in November 2020 and take back control of the US Senate it is the only way to resolve this matter the Democrats are on our side they proved it on the vote in the House of Representatives! There are people in our group that vote for Republicans and are voting against our cause! This needs to be brought up at every meeting that their not on our side by voting for the people that want us to take huge cuts!

    • Good afternoon, Bob and thank you for commenting on this post. It is truly unfortunate that politics are playing a role at all in whether or not people get the promised benefits that they worked so hard to achieve. It seems clear to me that fighting for tax payer – the Republican claim – carries no weight anymore given the trillion $ deficits being racked up by this administration. The BLA is the only legislation before the Senate and it should be acted on immediately. Please let me know what I can do to assist you in your effort. Russ

  2. Pingback: ARPA Pension Legislation: Life-Saving For Many! – Ryan ALM Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s