11 thoughts on “Forbes post, “Understanding The Central States Pension Plan’s Tale Of Woe”

  1. I have been a member of the Central States Pension Plan since 1977. One area you did not touch on was the influence of the Teamsters on the pension plan. In the 90’s when Hoffa (the son) started to have competition for the Presidency of the Teamsters, the pension plan was used as a tool to keep himself on top. Good example: Our pension benefits exploded in the 90’s. I remember fellow employees getting ready to retire with a 30&Out pension. When a new contract came up, the pension benefit would increase by $500 per month. To get the new amount you only had to work 10 days into the new contract! That was an increase of $6000 per year with only 10 days worth of contributions to cover it. That was only one thing that went on. I could go on and on about other things that were taking place.

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    1. Know one ever mentions about the Treasury Dept. Forcing the hand to offer early outs to rid the fund of excess supposedly it had.More took the early outs.Then as as member we took 1% down from 2% to fix the sheer number who went ahead and left on early retirement-2003 I believe.Where was the oversight.You only have to follow the dark money politically through history and currently who are pursuing solely with their billions to further disect the working men and women of America.The United States government was in fear of the Union when it’s numbers amassed over 60% of the work force and realized the Union as a sole entity could shut this country down.This made the rich and political poweful shudder that the power of people could bring down there livelyhood.Thus the pack has been pursuing to kill or be killed mentality that exist.I could go on forever.There were several players with there hand in the pot.It is and always will be criminal what has happened due to certain people,laws,goverments,unions.If it was Enron-ohhh thats criminal!If it was an ordinary individual thete would be jail time and restitution.Every crook involved I’m sure has their retirement still secure.That’s all we as teamsters ever asked was to make good decisions on our behalf-several need to be prosecuted just ones opinion who will have nothing for 30 yrs. of service because we trusted those who had the authority and failed.Hard to swallow this one.

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  2. Understanding is one thing but a solution is what is needed. The Butch Lewis Act Bill would not only solve Central States problem but civil pension’s too. This bill is not a bailout but a loan that will be paid back.

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  3. Oh, honey this goes far beyond actuarial assumptions! Remember that Central States was under a Federal Consent Decree, and was not just to have one, nor two, but 3 layers of protection. That’s what makes this even more beyond incredulous.
    What this seems to be, is a bunch of players who, made assumptions, (obviously the wrong ones), and those who were to be overseeing this stuff, just didn’t have any financial sense to say wait a minute, this isn’t working? You file complaints to the DOL for fiduciary breaches and the DOL turns it’s head. The participants ask for archived 5500 forms, and the DOL sends garbage to the participants, because archived files are corrupted. You can’t make up how really messed up this all is. When you pay actuaries such as yourselves to do what they do in these funds, and believe me, Segal has made a small fortune from Central States. Is Segal saying what the Fund managers want to hear, or are they really doing what they were to do, and stay impartial. This is the stuff I wonder about.

    If a actuary sees first class travel, trips to Hawaii, isn’t it their responsibility to report these things, when if any of them could do the math, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see this fund is headed to zero. So numbers don’t matter, and just being paid to crunch them is the only job left, because let’s face it honey, this isn’t the only one going sour, and you actuaries when pensions worked for decades, aren’t calling out the volatile stock market, the investment strategy, or the fact that Central States invested into third world Countries? You don’t find any of this odd? The fund manager who instead of taking care of his fund, just runs to Congress to change laws to override the minimum standards of ERISA Law, instead of just enforcing the laws. And a fiduciary no matter what compacity is supposed to meet the highest standards, not just the minimum standards on the books. This subject is not just about the math, but a much bigger picture than just actuarial assumptions. You guys need to go beyond number crunching and call this stuff out as you see it, as you are the closest thing the participants have to knowing right and wrong, because obviously, the under educated trustees, certainly don’t.

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    1. I could not agree more. The pension actuaries, as a whole, are far too quiet. This lack of standards is part of why the SOA failed to compel the CAS to merge the organisations. . Frankly I do not understand why the SOA does not raise the bar in terms of expected conduct An Actuary should go beyond the umber crunching, they should have to sign off that they agree with the assumptions and not just wimp out with a foot not that says the plan’s assumption weer not met in x amount of past years and may not be met in the future. There should be loud graphics that illustrate what the results could be if the various assumptions are not met

      Moreover a frank discussion needs to take place about the theoretical soundness of defined benefit plans. I have yet to see an honest discussion. I think I know why,and it boils down to there are no sound plans because the assumed underpinnings are molded on a past that does not resemble the present not likely the future. . .

      I am sad, because the Actuary profession should be more. My offspring are in the profession, but on the CAS side. Personally I am a disappointed in how low the standards are from both sanctioning organizations.

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  4. Jane here,
    1991 Employee retirement benefit increased
    The “30 and Out” benefit is increased to $2,000 per month at any age with a maximum benefit of $2,500 per month at age 65.
    1993 UPS employee benefit introduced
    A new pension class is established for UPS participants only. In addition to the “30 and Out” benefit of $2,000 per month, a “25 and Out” benefit becomes available at any age in the amount of $1,500 per month. Investment policy statement revised Morgan Stanley revises its investment policy statement. 1994 National master freight benefit introduced A new pension class is established for National Master Freight participants. The “30 and Out” pension is increased to $2,500 per month. Later that year, the same benefit becomes available to Car Haul participants. 1998 Consent decree amendment The amendment provides for the appointment of a second named fiduciary. National Master Freight benefit increased A new pension class is established for National Master Freight participants. The “30 and Out” benefit is increased to $3,000 per month. The eligibility age for the Car Haul benefit for “25 and Out” is reduced from age 57 to age 55. All this was done after the Federal Consent decree was put in place.
    I even found one of the old Central States Propaganda magazines, saying the Trustees were doing it to try and help build numbers in the Union.
    So much for taking your Union hat off and replacing it with protecting the fund hat. The sad thing that people do not realize is that the participants had no say in any of this. This was approved by the powers that be. Had these pensions been kept stable, the retirees would not know the difference, now. The problem is as things like buying a home, which some of the retirees did, based upon what they could afford, and most not being aware of the financial strain to their pensions, because the funds were not disclosing it, cutting these people’s pensions when they may have already invested them, is beyond dumb.
    The letters even Ken Feinberg said were not understandable to the Participants. The first time something understandable was put on them, was the after MPRA passed, when the fund finally put an expiration date, on the fund. Before that the letters said the trustees were working on a rehabilitation program, and that the fund went from 46% funded to 43% funded. Well if we average people did that math, at 3 % a year, our assumption would be that the fund would be done in 15 years, and being 76, most people would be under the assumption that the fund would be insolvent after they die, since it is decreasing 3 % a year.
    What was even worse, that you don’t know is that the Central States minions were going to the Local’s telling these people that everything was going to be okay, and not to worry.
    Disclosure of information by many people is a huge problem here. And the participants were broadsided totally. And remember what I said about 1st class travel and trips to Hawaii here, because, that has been going on with this fund too. There is way to much wrong here, and my question is, are you out just to ignore those things too, and dish up dirt so that these people get screwed in the end by the media and people such as you, or are you really interested in doing a story that tells the whole truth, because somehow, it is being ignored.

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    1. Jane,
      Mary is absolutely correct if you really want to involve yourself and do some real reporting. This would be the place to do that. The issue here is a humanitarian issue. You will be looking at thousands of participants of CSPF, and all the participants of the UMWA pensioners, as well as the locals that have their own pension issues along with the Iron Workers ETC. There will be more than 10,000,000 people, real people, directly affected by this crisis. The whole country will be hit by this and hit hard. If you think GM closing five more plants is big, that is nothing compared to what the pension crisis will look like.
      I believe billions of our pension dollars were loaned to GM, with this becoming a forgiven loan or better yet called a bailout. We, as participants of these funds, didn’t have any real control of our funds; we just continued to do what we believed was the right thing, to set money aside for our future.
      Our fund managers and/or fiduciaries of these funds have had the control. By order of the consent decree, our government placed the fiduciary responsibility in the hands of a few financial (too big to fail) institutions that gambled with our earned retirement dollars, as well as leaving it in partial control of the individuals that have helped facilitated the problem. With the help of the NCCMP they worked tirelessly to pass a law (MPRA), that didn’t see the light of day until after it was inked, to protect themselves from the law.
      Included in MPRA was a very undemocratic procedure of voting for or against benefit cuts. Wrapped in this undemocratic process was that if we didn’t return our ballot we were counted as a yes vote to cut our very own benefit. The scheming individuals that put together the MPRA law were well aware that the retirees that would be asked to vote on this issue were basically, for a large part, computer illiterate and would not be aware of the complete story. And for the most part people are still not getting the message.
      If you are serious about doing a story on this there are some well-versed people on this issue that you could and should reach out to to get the whole truth.

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  5. Very interesting read but you have to read not only the Forbe’s article but the reply posts to get a realistic idea of what happened. The blame is rampant especially with the government structure that was proposed to help catch any wrongdoing. GAO officials that dues paying members had to pay the salaries of while “overseeing” the fund that was under government decree.
    I’d like to add one such reply my reading on this beforehand subject stated these GAO officials & CSPF trustees in turning the funds over to several-well known banking institutions did a poor job of overseeing how those banks handled the spending allocations. The allocations where way to volitile for a pension fund this size it was said 70 percent specutive stocks 30 percent in secure investments. They did not inquire as to how those banks would allocate the investments. As you know any secure investment should have been more of a 30/70 spilt for a fund that size. What did we gain by having the GAO oversight here? There is no accountability very few hearings on the scope of the problem. What will the cause and effect be? I’d wish I could say a chance to fix all the causes that created this. The effects will be gut wrenching for all in this fund.
    So my thanks to you for allowing me to voice my concerns on this important matter and I do hope that those in Washington come to realize this problem needs to be dealt with sooner then later.

    Sincerely.

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