Unfunded Pensions and pension abuse...an international problem

Unfunded pensions are NOT confined to USA.  UK civil servants also receive pensions which are not fully funded.  Consider:  I am a civil servant who retired at 60 after 11 years' service.  I receive a small index linked pension of £3500 pa.  Should I live to, eg, 90 - why shouldn't I? I'm fit and healthy - I will receive a total (at today's value which index-linking is) of £105k.  I have contributed approx £11k over my working service.  Therefore, after three years, I will have received ALL my contributions back.  For the NEXT 27 years, I will be living, in effect, off the taxpayer.  


It was for that reason (amongst others) that, when my (former) union went on strike re the government changing the rules, I refused to strike.  I would have been ashamed.  Some of my colleagues thought the same and worked through the strikes. 


opher goodwin Added Feb 15, 2018 - 5:25am
You should have joined the union and gone on strike. We all owe it to those prepared to make a stand against injustice. They are not just fighting for themselves but for all that follow!
Jeffry Gilbert Added Feb 15, 2018 - 7:35am
 I refused to strike.  I would have been ashamed.  Some of my colleagues thought the same and worked through the strikes. 
You agreed to the rules when you joined the union. You enjoyed the benefits and protection of union membership. 
Then you turned your back on your responsibilities to them when they needed you. 
Utterly despicable behavior. 
Jo A-S Added Feb 15, 2018 - 12:31pm
Opher - Strike?  My article specifically stated that the pension was not morally justifiable. Nor is it financially justifiable.  The pension is a ponzi scheme that cannot be sustained.  I DID make a stand for the injustice imposed on the working class people who are paying for my pension.
Jeffry - you will note that I said FORMER union.  I left, very early  on, when I realised that the union was being selfish and thinking of power only - not the taxpayers who funded us workers.  I did NOT get any benefits from the union.  Likewise, all those who worked during the strikes were not members.  The strikes penalised everyone:  the taxpayers to whom we were unable to provide a service on the strike days; and the workers who lost pay but did not get anything out of the strike.  Oh, I forgot, the union bosses who called the strikes did not lose out - they still got paid.
Dave Volek Added Feb 15, 2018 - 12:56pm
Jo A-S
I'm not the only one who sees the light on this issue!
I get my statements from my government pension. When I compare my contributions from my paychecks of the last 42 years,  plus my employer contributions, plus incorporating any compound interest to my expected pension payment, there is no way my "contributions" are going to pay, if I live to average age, for that pension. I see a ponzi scheme as well.
I used to have a union pension. But when I left that employment, I moved it out of the union's control. The pension plan crashed five years later, with original value being discounted by 2/3.
Dino Manalis Added Feb 15, 2018 - 1:32pm
It's a big problem and a big promise, pensions should gradually be turned into 401K plans and invested conservatively.  State revenues ought to pay, not local taxpayers, politicians aren't dealing with it.
Edgeucation Newmedia Added Feb 16, 2018 - 4:27pm
I believe that civil & public servants should be able to collect pensions for life as promised. They worked hard for years at lower wages than the private sector and they deserve a decent retirement. These pensions were supposed to be funded but poor management left them with less income than expected. 
Jo A-S Added Feb 16, 2018 - 4:50pm
Edgeucation - re pay.  That is not necessarily true.  I worked in a government contact centre and our pay was above that of similar contact centres in the private sector.  Further, although we were expected to answer a minimum number of calls per day, firstly the figure was low and, secondly, the private sector were expected to hit, eg, re-sale targets. 
Also, you have not checked my figures correctly.  There is no way that my payments in could fund my payments out.  If you, yourself, works in the private sector, you are arguing against yourself - you are the person who is funding my retirement.......
Ari Silverstein Added Feb 17, 2018 - 3:34pm
From the standpoint of the taxpayers, unions are a parasite.  Their outrageous salaries and benefits are draining municipal budgets dry.  If it wasn’t for them, we could have lower teacher to student ratios, lower taxes and better overall services.  What a waste.
From the standpoint of a union member, I don’t blame any of them for asking for the moon.  It’s up to our elected officials to say “no.”  And if they don’t, it’s up to the voters to find different elected officials.
From the standpoint of a union member that refuses to strike with his union, that takes a lot of guts.  I can think of no scarier group of people than a disgruntled union mob.  So I tip my hat to you for bravery.  However, I don’t think you’re very intelligent, not just because of the people you’re angering but also because your protest will do nothing.  You might as well keep a low profile and strike.  After all, the union is your sugar daddy. 
Jo A-S Added Feb 18, 2018 - 1:38am
Ari.  Thanks for your comments.  The only disagreement is that, like I pointed out to Jeffry above, I left the union.  It would have been morally wrong for me to strike and yet keep any union benefits.  All my colleagues who worked were also not in the union. 
As to finding different officials to elect, civil service unions, in the UK, are notorious for being powerful with union (senior) officials who are close to marxist. 
Shane Laing Added Feb 18, 2018 - 4:24pm
You will hate me then Jo. I'm a member of the RMT working for London Underground.
Jo A-S Added Feb 19, 2018 - 6:50am
Why should I hate you, Shane.  I don't know your pay/circumstances etc.  If you wish to be a member of a union, that is up to you, not me.  I don't know your pension circumstances either.  BUT, if, like mine, you are getting substantially more than you pay in, then someone else has to carry the can for your retirement. 
And, consider this, if the latter is so it must go belly-up sometime in the future so, what about your younger colleagues?  What are they going to retire on?
Ari Silverstein Added Feb 19, 2018 - 7:58pm
I don’t think it’s wrong to strike and keep your union benefits.  The union doesn’t have the right to tell you what to think and what causes are worthy.  While I don’t think it’s very smart from a career and personal safety standpoint, you have the right to not support a strike. Furthermore, the union shouldn’t have the right to deny you earned benefits for not supporting a strike.  In light of the fact you were not a member of the union when you chose not to strike, I take back my comments about your bravery. 
Rusty Smith Added Feb 21, 2018 - 5:50pm
Jeffry Gilbert there are many occupations that are off limits to people who aren't willing to join unions and cough up union dues, they are a TAX on many members who have absolutely no use or love for the union but rather regard it as extortion.
Incidentally that also applies when companies become unionized, lots of employees that never wanted to be union get caught up in the fray.  
In most places if you want to teach in a public school you MUST pay union dues, even if you don't want to join and strongly object to the political support your union spends you dues money on.  
Many unions have become glorified legal Mafia like extortionists.  They push and push for more and more pay and benefits until one day the company goes bankrupt and than their members are left with nothing.  Remember GM, they had a great union that drove them to bankruptcy.  I have a friend who lost everything when his union lost most of their work to non union shops.  So much for his huge investment, (to get in), and the pension he had almost earned.
I am proud of what Jo A-S did and wish more members would stand up and do the same.
Jo A-S Added Feb 22, 2018 - 12:59am
Thanks, Rusty
Rusty Smith Added Feb 22, 2018 - 9:57am
Jo A-S I do think Unions did a lot of very good things to shape this country and help the average guy around the end of the industrial revolution but have increasingly viewed what they do today as destructive and selfish, especially the Union Management who either don't have the brains to see what they are doing, or are just too selfish to care.  Many are slowly putting their members out of business by making them increasingly noncompetitive.
I have been though a Unionization attempt where the people pushing the hardest were the misfits who were previously worried that their antics and poor work ethic would get them fired.  If the effort had succeeded they would be been well protected from firing by the union and ended up getting equally paid to the hardest workers with equal seniority.  I've have lost most of my ability to reward hard workers, punish slackers, or ask anyone with idle time to help someone else if that someone else didn't have the same job duties.  If my dock worker was at the doctor I couldn't even ask the driver to help unload a few packages.
I've also dealt with Unions and seen how they used every excuse to extort more and more and more pay and benefits even by making ordinary changes impossible unless we agree to pave the way with pay and benefit increases.  When 90% of our employees WANTED to slightly alter their working hours, the Union demanded benefit increases as their bribe to let us make those changes for the employees.  If that's not Mafia type extortion tactics I don't know what is.
Jo A-S Added Feb 23, 2018 - 12:47am
Rusty - agree entirely.  Unions had a purpose.  But then became too powerful.  Their power, in the UK, was reduced in the 80s.  But they are still powerful in the public sector......
At a local level, they provide a service, from local reps, to look after workers.  But, it is at national level where they have become out and out politicised.  The trouble is, the majority of members just want to get on with their lives and do not fight, or are not strong enough, for change.......

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