Anchorage school district bails out Teamster pension plan

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By DAVID BOYLES

The Anchorage School Board last week unanimously voted to accept the Teamsters Local 959 (bus drivers/attendants) contract demands.  Part of those demands includes the taxpayer bailing out an underfunded Teamster Pension Fund; for all teamsters—not just the ones employed by the school district. 

This pension fund has been under water since June 2011. In 2020 the U.S. Department of Labor put this Teamster-Employer Pension Plan into a continued “critical” status, meaning that members would receive reduced benefits.

These reduced benefits have been in effect since July 2011. Giving more money to this fund won’t help fix the bad management practices, nor will it guarantee the employees will get the benefit of this plan in the future. 

 How much will this cost Anchorage taxpayers?

The district must pay the fund $1 for each hour of compensation earned by an employee with six or less years of service. The district must fund $2 an hour for all other employees. 

At 40 hours/week, that would mean $80/week just to pay to bail out the Teamsters Pension Fund. The employee sees none of this. The district pays the entire cost.

What are the employees to expect from the taxpayer contributions to this “pension plan”? Maybe nothing. 

The contract says, “It is the intention of the parties that the employees be covered by both (PERS and Teamster) pension plans.”  The contract “intent” is not binding enough to provide employees any benefits.

This does not bode well for the employees because the Alaska Teamster Employer Pension Trust has not been managed well enough to ensure benefits for these employees. 

The Teamsters have slipped an additional penalty on the taxpayers in the following language:

“The District agrees to pay, in accordance with the Pension Protection Act, an employer supplemental contribution required due to the critical status designation of the Alaska Teamster Employer Pension Trust. 

Because the Teamster Pension Trust has not been managed properly and in a fiscally responsible manner, Anchorage taxpayers must ante up even more to ensure the viability of the fund. 

As a final gesture, the Teamsters Union says that if there is an increase in this supplemental contribution, then the bus drivers’ wages will be reduced.  So, the Anchorage taxpayer loses, and the employee loses.

The school district has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure these taxpayer funds are managed properly. But the District cannot possibly do this when it has no control over the fund’s management. 

The contract states, “The details of the plan will be determined by the Board of Trustees of the Alaska Teamster-Employer Pension Trust Fund, in accordance with the Trust Agreement of June 21, 1966. The Employer (school district) and the Union agree to be bound by said Trust Agreement and all lawful amendments thereto…”

This means that the Teamsters call the shots, and the district must obey.  This puts the district in a very poor position regarding costs.  The new contract takes away any power the school district had, and it must adhere to the Teamster union decisions. 

 Anything to save the Teamsters underwater Pension Trust.

There is a legally questionable clause in the contract agreement that pertains to mandatory union membership.  This hinges on the U.S. Supreme Court Janus decision, June 2018.

The contract states. “…the district will not in any manner restrain or attempt to restrain any employee from belonging to the Union…”.  This implies that the district cannot provide information to the employee that one does not have to belong to the Union to keep his/her job.  The Janus decision clearly states that one does not have to belong to a government union to keep one’s job.  It is an infringement of one’s First Amendment rights to do otherwise.

This contract flies in the face of the SCOTUS Janus decision.

The School Board is funneling taxpayer dollars into a union pension fund with no accountability and, more importantly, with potentially no benefits for our employees. 

The Teamsters Union wins.  The bus drivers and attendants lose.  The Anchorage taxpayer loses.  And the school district’s budget hole gets even deeper. More information is at this link.

42 COMMENTS

  1. Having your kids in public school is child abuse.

    But it’s good to see the Teamsters are now openly running Anchorage public schools. At least now you know who and what you’re actually paying. You haven’t been paying for an education for years.

    The only real difference between Anchorage and SF is temperature.

    • Teamsters haven’t had the foothold on anything in Anchorage since the “old days” when they owned a hospital a gym and many other things in the Jessie Carr days. The problem with bus drivers is no one wants crap wages for working a split shift with ill mannered kids and incompetent management.

    • Agreed! Maybe Dave was absent….
      The circular money laundering continues. The ASD uses tax funds to support the unions, who in turn give donations back to the liberal majority for their campaigns. You really can not be more obvious, all on the property owners dime. The question now is how to disrupt that cycle. For one do not vote for another bond, it only provides general funds for whatever they deem necessary.
      Kinda reminds me of the “treatment center” that somehow made its way into the sale of ML&P because of a deal with “non-profit” Providence.

      • Dave is one of the good guys on the board. He’s conservative and has been working hard to improve things but with the liberal board it’s been frustrating. If he voted yes for this, then there were good reasons. I’m trying to find out what those reasons are. Was the vote unanimous?

    • Donley, sadly, seems as corrupt as his school board colleagues.
      .
      Look at “Anchorage School Board votes for construction monopoly by labor unions”, MRAK, March 9, 2022.
      (mustreadalaska.com/anchorage-school-board-votes-for-construction-monopoly-by-labor-unions/)
      .
      Eight months later Donley and friends bail out out the Teamsters Union.
      .
      Don’t know who Donley and Friends are bailing out next. Do know it’s not taxpayers.
      .
      Seems reasonable to ask how the symbiotic school board-union relationship does -not- rise to the level of a criminal enterprise, prosecutable under the RICO Act.
      .
      If asked politely, Governor Dunleavy might withold Anchorage School District’s portion of state funding until it’s determined whether Anchorage School Board exceeded its authority by giving themselves authority to act as a pass-through enterprise for laundering taxpayer money into union pension funds.
      .
      Frustratingly, Anchorage voters have no recourse through their easily corruptible election system.
      .
      But, if enough parents disenroll their children from Anchorage School District, the District’s revenue-sharing stream might slow to a trickle, to that magic point where its union-management team start blowing their whistles, eating their own
      .
      …which may be the first step toward fixing this problem.

      • Great idea, an email oughtta show the union guy a thing or two, correct the institutional corruption, correct the damage done on his watch, at taxpayer expense, to generations of young minds and bodies.
        .
        Who knows, maybe ole Dave’s working with the U.S. Attorney as we speak on an epic racketeering complaint, child-abuse complaints, a qui tam lawsuit all of which are about to collapse Anchorage School District and he can’t say anything about it without the risk of being fitted for cement overshoes.
        .
        That’s what it is… we just figured it out.

    • He joined Laborers Local 341 in 1974 and besides working on construction, served as Auditor, Training School Instructor, Election Judge, Organizer, Executive Board Member, and Recording Secretary before retiring from Local 341 in 2007. At one time, he was their lawyer. They contributed to his campaigns when he was a state representative and state senator. Probably also contributed to his school board campaigns.

  2. Everyone should pay more in taxes as it is for the kids. Anchorage is getting what it wants as we voted for it what’s wrong with the union bleeding the taxpayer dry?

  3. This is unbelievable. Yet, believable since it is not the school board’s money. There’s no union, no matter how low their productivity, that they don’t like or won’t help. Yet another legacy of 959 boss Jesse Carr stranglehold on Alaska – even from the grave.

  4. ” A man who has never gone to school may steal a freight car, but if he has a University Education he may steal the whole Railroad. (Theodore Roosevelt) Looks like Margo Bellamy (former
    School Administrator) and her board have stolen the whole railroad from Anchorage Taxpayers..

  5. The union influence on the school board and assembly is quite disturbing. But the independence of the courts and legislature is worrisome also so where to go.

  6. What I’m curious about is why they (ASD) haven’t just rolled the bus drivers into PERS Tier 4, force the issue and be done with it like they did the maintenance employees (Long ago) that are represented by Local 959. In fact the Teamsters never had Maintenance in their retirement or healthcare trust, they only negotiate the contract on their behalf and collect the maintenance employees paid dues (Pre Janus Decision which made dues paying optional) and that was that.

    For those that don’t know Tier 4 PERS is just a 401K style retirement and after the initial contribution ASD & the State of Alaska hold no financial responsibility.

    • Because the so-called educators are smarter than everybody else and they don’t want to give anything extra to the drivers. These drivers are not “people of letters” equals not real smart in the eyes of these glorified college educated idiots… So the drivers are left out. If they paid them what they were worth for driving kids they probably would make as much or more than teachers… And the teachers can’t have that, now can they? People who still allow their children to attend this district are very shortsighted at best and stupid at worst. Get your kids out.

    • Not too far from the truth. Some unions such as the IBEW have been literally run by the Italian mafia. This should be no different.
      They behave with the same pattern.

  7. this is why public sector unions must be abolished
    you shouldnt be allowed to unionize against the public because its their money and they have absolutely no say in the negotiations

    • Agreed! It is actually worse than that. Unions and their PACs support the very politicians they will sit across the table to negotiate and approve their deal. This has always been a serious conflict of interest. Since legislators are in the same boat, we will never see legislation that prohibits contributions to campaigns from any entity directly or indirectly related to labor negotiations.

  8. If the Assembly goes along with this then it’s double malfeasance. This illustrates to me why the state can never go back to a defined benefit plan for PERS and TRS; we cannot expect state officials in Alaska to act responsibly. Maybe it’s a holdover from the days of high petroleum production. In any event Alaska officials make commitments that go far beyond what their tenure will be, and no one does a sensitivity test to see if a commitment can be met should TAPS shut down. Anchorage taxpayers should send registered letters to the Teamsters clarifying that any financial commitment made by the Muni is subject to annual appropriation under the state constitution. This did not go to the voters, and there is no full faith and credit involved. In that letter you might cc Tony Soprano – after all, this is the Teamsters.

  9. Sounds like union strong arming has not died. Hope the Attorney General looks into this illegal act and abuse of tax payers money being misspent.

  10. Every union person I know says their pension plan is “ fully funded”. I always tell them, yes, fully funded by the tax payer.

  11. “Bail out the mismanaged pension fund of a union” The union endorses the candidate that does not have a mindset to push policies that will put food in the mouths of its members, but rather to be there to bail them out from their mismanagement

  12. If Anchorage Citizen’s and Parents are expecting meaningful improvement, providing value added education, they need to scrap the entire ASD System. Replacing it with a structured, disciplined and regimented military formatted school system.

  13. Well, they’ve obviously got the extra money, having spent none on education other than that spent pushing CRT, trans and gay porn. Test scores prove it. Cheers –

  14. Who’s more important!? Kids or unions?
    Thank god I have no more kids In school! Anchorage or Alaska! School system has lost many kids since the China bug shut down! Losing more! Cos, you can’t bring them back! I have no respect for this school system ! Failed! Big F

  15. The first question is why ASD employees were ever in any retirement system other than the State’s PERS. I know the arrangement goes back to at least the 70s when ASD bargained under its own ordinance and there was no real legal oversight in a world dominated by Jess Carr’s Teamsters.

    As to the contract language about restraining union membership, it is superfluous other than it get the union a crack at an arbitrator rather than having to go straight to the Labor Relations Agency or court.

    It is an unfair labor practice under the Public Employment Relations Act to restrain or coerce an employee with regard to union membership, but in fact forcing or coercing membership by operation of contract language is itself an unfair labor practice.

    All it takes is somebody who knows something about labor relations and a little courage to deal with this issue.

  16. Paging James Hoffa. Call your office….. If you are awake you know that taxation is theft and resistance is life destroying and even fatal. A ways back there was a revolution against those who would put humans in the yoke of financial slavery. The seven stages of Empire march on though. I yearn to see a “reconciliation” when certain “masters” are called to account. Our currency is debt and what gives it value is our slavery.

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