Concerned retirees meet with congressman about pension cuts

SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – Retired workers and those approaching retirement are worried that companies are going to cut their pension plans. So, Tuesday, they met with Congressman Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, in Salem about saving their plans.

Many were hired with a defined-benefit pension plan, meaning the employer guarantees that the employee will receive a definite amount of money when they retire. Now, 30 to 40 years later, when the employee gets close to retirement, the company is giving those retirees a little less money.

Those who have retired said it is having a hard impact on their lives.

“It’s going to kill people,” said Mike Walden, a retired 66-year-old. “It’s going to maim people. We won’t be able to pay for our medications for these people. It is just truly unfair, and we have no voice in it.”

Walden could see a 52 percent cut in his pension — that’s close to $18,000 a year he was promised that he won’t receive.

“We may be talking about bankruptcy and repossessions. We have currently put off purchases that we were looking into — possibly cars, remodeling kitchen, furniture. We’re putting all that off. We won’t be able to afford it,” said Walden.

He and five others met at Congressman Bill Johnson’s office. Johnson said he understands what the retirees are going through.

“We work all of our lives, and we plan for the eventual day that hopefully that we are going to be able to retire and enjoy the fruits of our labors,” he said.

The representative said this was not destined to happen. Johnson believes one reason for the problem is too many business regulations coming from Washington.

“With companies shrinking and businesses suffering, you’ve got fewer and fewer people paying into those programs, so it’s creating a real problem,” said Johnson.

During the meeting, the group discussed ways to help fix the problem. Johnson is sponsoring a bill that promotes transparency and accountability from company managers so that employees get the money they were promised.

“They expect those benefits to be there for them, and they should be,” said Johnson.

Retired people are hoping for a change in the near future. They say sometimes even going back to isn’t an option, because many employers don’t see them as physically fit.

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