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Pathetic Pension Trustees Threaten Members

Written by Wanda Pasz Monday, 20 February 2006

With their problems piling up around them like so many bags of festering trash, the trustees of the Canadian Commercial Workers Industry Pension Plan (CCWIPP - pronounced "quip") have been lurching from one lame attempt at damage control to another.

With their problems piling up around them like so many bags of festering trash, the trustees of the Canadian Commercial Workers Industry Pension Plan (CCWIPP - pronounced "quip") have been lurching from one lame attempt at damage control to another.

Until recently their efforts consisted mainly of contradictory media releases and information bulletins (some accuse the regulator's report of being flawed and "riddled with inaccuracies" while others claim the report found really wrong nothing (except a few administrative procedures that "needed updating").

But now, with a possible RCMP investigation looming, the quip-crew has shifted gears - from the lame to the despicable. Their latest effort to stave off the wrath of angry members have earned them the name "cwip-shits" and that is how I shall refer to them from here on.

What have the quip-shits done now? Unable to sweep the mess they've made under the carpet or to persuade anyone (except maybe themselves) that two damning reports by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) are either riddled with inaccuracies or found only some minor administrative procedures needed updating, the spineless bags of dirt have taken to scaring their members with thinly veiled threats of legal action for blowing the whistle on them.

At a time when they should be busy resigning from their posts or, in the least, humbling themselves before the members whom they have so badly betrayed, the pathetic band of troughers are busying themselves attempting to pry confidential information out of the regulator in an effort to find out who blew the whistle and how loudly.

It's hard to imagine anything more spineless, more self-serving and noxious from this tag-team of corporate and union shmoes but then again, the cwip-shits have proven time and again that there are no depths they won't plumb when it comes to covering their fat butts and protecting their own interests.

On the heels of a report this past week that the RCMP is considering a possible criminal investigation into the pension plan, came a report that the cwip-shits are trying to obtain the names of members who contacted the regulatory agency and details about the concerns that they raised. uncharted.ca has learned that the cwip-shits' request has been denied but that they are appealing and it's just so appalling.

Their chances of actually getting their clammy hands on this information are pretty much zero. Personal information provided by citizens who contact government agencies in Ontario is protected under privacy legislation. Disclosure is permitted in a very narrow range of circumstances and is specifically prohibited where among other things, it may interfere with a law enforcement investigation or expose a complainant to pecuniary or other harm.

So why are the cwip-shits bothering with this exercise in futility?

A question in an entertaining FAQ on the cwip-shit web site provides a big clue:

Q: Do you know who made the anonymous allegations that triggered the FSCO investigation?

A: Our legal counsel is seeking to identify the pension plan's accusers.

The name of their game is to discourage other members from raising concerns about their pension plan by threatening to sue anyone who dares to come forward to make the cwip-shits lives even more miserable than they must be by now. With talk of a class action lawsuit circulating among members, the cwip-shits are getting desperate. "Accuse us of anything and you'll be sorry", is the not-too-thinly veiled threat behind the answer to the question.

UFCW Canadian Director and cwip-shit Michael Fraser got the ball rolling in the glossy CCWIPP fan-zine issued last fall when he said, that the FSCO's examination was Conducted as a result of malicious, unsubstantiated allegations made by unnamed complainants.

Of course, this was just one of a couple of grade A distortions that Fraser coughed up in the glossy mag which was mailed to all UFCW and CCWIPP members across Canada in September 2005.

There doesn't seem to be anything malicious about concerned pension plan members contacting the regulator to discuss their concerns. And it seems that, whatever the concerned members may have brought to the FSCO's attention, the May 2005 report and subsequent addendum substantiated that there were a whole lotta problems with their pension plan.

As for the complainants being unnamed, well that's a load of, er, how to put it politely - cwip-shit. We're quite sure that the complainants have names and we're also quite sure that the FSCO knows their names too. But their names are protected by privacy legislation and for good reason: To prevent them from being harassed by vindictive idiots with a lot of money at their disposal.

It's unclear how knowing the names of the complainants would change anything for the bedraggled cwip-shits. The FSCO found what it found through a long investigation. It didn't take anybody's word for it. It's doubtful that the regulator would say, "Oh so it was John Smith who contacted us and said there were problems. Well, in that case scrap that report and give the cwip-shits a gold star instead."

It's even less clear what legal counsel could do if he knew the identities of the "unnamed complainants". Presumably legal counsel knows that the chances of successfully suing anyone for raising concerns with the pension regulator are about as good as CCWIPP's chances of seeing a pension surplus any time soon.

Contacting a regulatory agency with concerns or even allegations doesn't exactly make for a cause of action. If the cwip-shits believe that the FSCO subjected them to an unwarranted examination that caused them much grief and great expense, they should be suing the FSCO. It was the regulator, after all, that decided to go ahead with an examination - not the "unnamed complainants". But the cwip-shits aren't going to do that because they know what it would get them.

Even if they decided to go for broke and sue any complainant who may have contacted the FSCO, the best defense is "truth" or "fair comment".

We don't know exactly what the complainant(s) who contacted the FSCO complained about but if they said their pension plan had a huge solvency deficiency or had just cut pension accrual rates by 20%, that would be true.

If they said that their pension trustees were pouring money into high risk investments, not performing due diligence, not keeping proper records, making loans that exceeded the value of the collateral, not doing proper valuations and investing money in ways that breached pension legislation, all of that would also be true. If they said that their trustees poured about $280 million into a financially-troubled Bahamas resort that would be true. If they said that many of the businesses in which their trustees invested their money were now bankrupt, that would also be true. It's all set out in two lengthy reports issued by the regulator after a lengthy examination.

And if the unnamed complainants expressed an opinion like, "My pension plan is run by a bunch of vindictive twits!", a good argument could be made that that, in all the the circumstances, is "fair comment".

It would be funny if it weren't real: Picture a bunch of well-dressed lemmings, hell bent on self-destruction racing towards the edge of a cliff and yelling angrily at the water below, "You'd better not drown us! We know who you are! Legal counsel is going to get you!"

Watch out cwip-shits. It's a long way down.

Up To Your Neck in CCWIPP

Regulators' Reports
FSCO Report on CCWIPP May 2005
FSCO Addendum December 2005
Alberta Pension Commission Report on CCWIPP, 1999
Media Reports
Toronto Star feature on CCWIPP July 2005
Union Pension Fund Debacle Canadian Grocer, December 2005
RCMP Scrutinizing Pension Fund Report, Toronto Star, February 13, 2006
Official Says Union Downplaying Report, Toronto Star, February 13, 2006
Regulator Slams Pension's Paperwork, Toronto Star, February 14, 2006
Pension Plan Wants Accuser Identified, Toronto Star, February 14, 2006
MFD/uncharted on CCWIPP
CCWIPP Full Disclosure: Part 1
CCWIPP Full Disclosure: Part 2
The Haunted Houses of Labour
Workers Betrayed by Pension Gurus
Pension Gurus Damned Again
Beaver Tales
Regulator in the Sack with UFCW Pension Crew?
Sins of the Commission
Open Letter to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario
CCWIPP Trustees Speak Out
CCWIPP Press Statement, May 2005
UFCW Our Union Magazine, September 2005
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