Range pensioners await (good?) news

Every place has its morose story of woe and heartache, its cyclonic sucking vortex of public and private outrage. For the Iron Range that story is the troubles facing pensioners from the former National Steel plant in Keewatin. A few hundred miners caught between owners of the plant, now run as Keewatin Taconite by U.S. Steel, were cut off from their promised pension, paid pennies on the dollar by the federal Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation. I’d go into more detail, but it is an endless Russian drama of bile and sadness. You have no idea.

Today outgoing Congressman Jim Oberstar’s office released news of an upcoming report on the status of these pensions, leading some involved to believe that some good news might await the retirees in early 2011. Oberstar’s office has been on this issue for years. Today’s release was quick to point out that this is one area where the constituent files will be shared with incoming Rep.-elect Chip Cravaack to ensure that the fires applied to the feet of the PBGC will continue burning. The endless point work by Oberstar’s staff on this deserves recognition.

This story serves mostly as a reminder of some of the problems many future retirees will face in coming decades, myself included, as pension plans are roughed up in corporate mergers and public sector decline.


  1. Not just pensions from some of the mining companies: many people lost their health insurance. Some were able to qualify for VA health care, due to their service to this nation. They served; they earned this benefit. Many chose not to use it until they had no choice.

    Lets not forget that many (most???) people rather have regular income from a job and regular insurance from a job, and would rather pay their own heating costs, and for their own food, but when companies close, for any reason, when jobs are downsized out of existence, then many people turn reluctantly to the government for help.

    The only time I’ve personally been on the receiving end of assistance was when my father was ill for months and had serious surgeries, when I was a child. But my adult children have all found themselves in predicaments of earning only $8/hour, part time. They have needed to get help. One has moved beyond that into a full time position. One got two promotions, and now earns $10/hour, no benefits, as a store manager. And the other is almost finished with a teaching degree, so we all hope that he will be teaching grade school next year.

  2. We just got to get Oberstar back in office before 2013!! Any ideas?

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