“It would put us in a big bind,” Oklahoma City group fighting to keep pensions

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Their meetings started out with only about a dozen people attending, but has grown to include over 100.

The Oklahoma City Committee to Protect Pensions says they’re fighting for the pensions of more than 6,400 Oklahomans.

The federal government took over the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund back in the 1980’s and commissioned Wall Street to manage it.

But it has been slowly crumbling.

Many believe poor management of the funds is to blame and they want the government to step in and do something before it’s too late.

“We all put our dues in so Teamsters said, 'Hey, come here, come here to work and when you get ready to retire, you’ll have all kinds of money.' Well now it’s not here,” said Rod Heikes.

Heikes organized the local committee.

He’s been a truck driver his entire life and relies on that monthly paycheck. He also uses it to help support his father-in-law and his daughter, a single mother who lives with him.

“If they take this money from me, I’m not going to be able to help these people. We’ve had people commit suicide over this,” said Heikes.

It has been a battle across the country, with some multi-employer pension funds going under, causing pensions to be drastically cut.

“They say that our pension, nothing being done at all, will be insolvent and gone in approximately seven years. And I find that unacceptable,” said Gene Hawkins, another member of the committee.

Alice Maloy is also concerned.

Her husband worked 31 years in the trucking industry and is not physically able to go back to work.

“It would put us in a big bind,” said Maloy. “The government was supposed to be overseeing it. And they turned their back to it and nobody wants to listen to us.”

Heikes and his daughter have even traveled to Washington to speak to our congressmen and he says they plan to go again.

“I have no other resource of a living without this pension,” said Coy Priddy, who is also attending committee meetings.

The group says one federal lawmaker has requested an investigation into the management of their pension funds.

They’re hoping if any fraud turns up, that money will be returned to their pension, which can then be managed by someone else.