Living expenses for essentials such as housing and utilities rose between 37 percent and 72 percent in 14 years, but pensions didn’t increase at all for local retirees of some U.S. Department of Energy contractors.
A local nonprofit organization hopes to change that.
“We must continue to strive for an increase in pensions for all retirees,” said Dub Shults, president of Coalition for Oak Ridge Retired Employees, or CORRE. “This is our basic need.”
During an annual membership meeting Monday, Shults cited factors that have hampered the organization’s requests for pension adjustments for more than 13,000 retirees and surviving spouses of managing contractors of DOE facilities in Oak Ridge. Among those are the July 28 security breach at the Y-12 National Security Complex, tighter budgets, and changes in contractors, pension plans, and leaders at DOE sites in Oak Ridge.
“The answer to our quest for pension adjustments is that prospects are dim,” Shults told several hundred people during the Monday afternoon meeting at the Heritage Fellowship Church in Oak Ridge. “We are not likely to get a pension increase in the foreseeable future.”
Still, there are reasons to be hopeful, Shults said.
“We believe the pendulum has begun to swing in the other direction,” he said. The stock market is gradually improving, which means that pension trust assets are growing, and recent legislation has “provided some relief in the way that trust liabilities are estimated, which results in higher funding levels,” Shults said.
Click here to read Shults’ entire talk, including his answers to six frequently asked questions.