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Pension Restructuring Looms for CCWIPP Members

Written by Wanda Pasz Sunday, 21 June 2009

More bad news for members of UFCW Canada's beleaguered CCWIPP pension plan: A notice from the pension plan's trustees this past week announced a -19.6% rate of return for 2008 and warned that "without significant new capital, benefit restructuring will be necessary".

The notice comes as members await the verdict, expected in next month, into dozens of charges under the Ontario Pension Benefits Act that were filed against the trustees in 2006.

From the text of the trustees' notice it is apparent that the well-heeled gang of eight management and UFCW trustees plan to lay the blame for the pension plan's distressing ROI on the worldwide financial meltdown.

In my opinion this is yet another lame attempt at spin-doctoring. The CCWIPP plan was in deep trouble long before the investment markets went into a tailspin last year. Members of the plan and interested members of the public will recall that this plan has had a breathtaking solvency deficiency for well over a decade and that this deficit grew at an alarming rate during for years as the trustees shoveled millions of dollars into the pockets of a farcical line-up of fly-by-nighters with solid track records of failed businesses behind them. Included in this cootie platoon of entrepreneurial flops was a pedophile ex-priest whose now-defunct empire was the beneficiary of over $100 million long gone pension dollars.

The impact of this past year's ROI bad news on the plan's transfer ratio - .52 (or 52 cents on the dollar) as of last year - remains to be seen but it's safe to say that things are only going to get way worse.

Members are already feeling the pain. One member who was left with no option but to retire after losing his job a year ago when the plant at which he'd worked a lifetime was abruptly closed, was horrified to learn that his expected $500 per month pension benefit had been slashed to a meager $220 after the 52% discount.

A stabilization fund established a couple of years ago in an effort to pump additional money into the plan appears to have made little difference. Some members have expressed concern that the extra contributions, made by only a small number of employers during collective bargaining negotiations, served mainly as a means for the employers to extract concessions and wage freezes from the UFCW.

The whole thing is a travesty and the trustees should be called to account. These supposedly sophisticated men and women, all of whom hold executive positions within their organizations, should not be allowed to hide behind the recent financial crisis. This pension plan was in a tail spin long ago. But they smugly sat back and let a self-interested former business union boss and his tangled web of shady associates root around in their members' retirement fund like pigs in bottomless trough.

In a sense, the whole CCWIPP saga is a reflection of what's happened to us - we the people - and our financial resources whether pension funds or other small investments. We put our faith blindly in a system that was really just a big kleptocracy run by fly-by-nighters and overseen by indifferent bureaucrats. It's time for a full accounting.

Previous News and Articles about CCWIPP as featured on MFD/uncharted:

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
Pathetic Pension Trustees Threaten Members
Another UFCW Pension Plan in the Hole
CCWIPP Trustees Speak Out
CCWIPP Press Statement, May 2005
UFCW Our Union Magazine, September 2005
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