To the Journal editor:
It is painful to witness the Detroit bankruptcy and the devastating affect it will have on public-sector retirees and those current employees working toward a promise that will be unfulfilled or severely cut.
Who is to blame? Who cares? The pension plans (the promise) never were adequately funded over many years.
Those of us in the iron ore industry watched helplessly in 1999-2002 as several major steelmakers entered Chapter 7 bankruptcy and thousands of steelworker jobs were lost and reduced pensions picked up by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC).
Locally, as contract negotiations approached in 2004, USW Local 4950 President Dan Carilli wanted to make sure his active members and retirees did not suffer the same fate in the event of a Cleveland-Cliffs or partnership bankruptcy.
To that end, he received approval from his membership to engage the services of a pension actuary, who after laborious review of the status of our pension funding gave the union direction on how to proceed in negotiating funding protocols that would go a long way to insure the promise.
To the credit of Cleveland-Cliffs (aka Cliffs Natural Resources) the company agreed to make substantial payments to the pension funds, above and beyond regular funding, for each year of the new labor agreement.
All Steelworkers in the Michigan iron ore operations, be they retired or actively working, owe a debt of gratitude for one man’s vision, insuring that our pension (the promise) remains secure.
Thank you, Dan Carilli.