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  • authored by news
  • published Sat, Jul 27, 2002

Leading edge or bleeding edge?

Union pension funds on the edge. Leading or bleeding?

Are union leaders and trustees of union pension funds getting taken for a spin by smooth-talking entrepreneurs looking for fast cash to finance high risk ventures? Are the men (mostly) who oversee the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars of union members' money on the leading edge or the bleeding edge when it comes to generating healthy returns with prudent investments for those members? Certainly, there are many union-sponsored plans that are well managed and generating healthy returns but a few are giving us cause for pause.

Remember the United Association's investment adventure in the Diplomat Hotel? The last we heard some $800 million had been poured into the Florida resort from the UA's pension fund. When an initial cash infusion of $10 million eventually ballooned to $600 million, angry members asked the US Department of Labor to step in and stop the bleeding. Then there are the millions that have poured from the UFCW's Canadian Commercial Workers Industry Pension Plan (CCWIPP) into various ventures, including a half dozen or so bankrupt or near-bandrupt hotels. CCWIPP members are beginning to ask questions about the plan's investment decisions and its solvency.

Union leaders and pension trustees defend these investments on the basis that they are creating jobs which, hopefully, will be filled by union members. In the case of the UA, the Diplomat's operators agreed to allow HERE to organize its workforce. In the case of some of the CCWIPP's hotel investments, the UFCW was granted voluntary recognition for the workers at hotels that were flush with UFCW pension fund moolah.

Tom Kukovica, UFCW Canadian Director during the early 1990's, could hardly contain himself in this 1992 interview with Our Times:

Besides putting money directly back into the pockets of the membership, the joint trusteeship of pension plans between the UFCW and its various employers has permitted the union to control the investment destiny of millions of dollars. "With the pension funds we've been mainly concentrating in real estate, such as affordable housing projects," says Kukovica. This month the UFCW, with an equity stake of over 50 per cent, helped to re-open the Triumph Hotel in suburban Toronto, "It was in receivership. Now the hotel will be unionized, so we've created (union) jobs at the same time.

How many jobs were created? In 1992, an investment of $15 million from the CCWIPP in a bankrupt Toronto hotel, created a total of 150 jobs. That's about one job for every $100,000 invested. Was it worth it? You be the judge.

The investment destinies of these millions lead to one question after another and here at MFD, we're helping concerned union members get the answers. One the the most pressing is: What rate of return have pension plan members realized and what is the level of risk involved in these investments. According to this industry expert:

Currently we see many financial sources still gun shy of offering financing for hospitality properties. Many have strict policies on what hospitality properties need in order to be considered for financing with a formal appraisal procedure. In today's market, financial institutions are generally not willing ot advance more than 50 per cent of a project's supportable value off cash flow or 50% of capital costs, whichever is less. This means that any investment group must be prepared to contribute a large amount of the money itself. (Valuation of hotel properties raises complex issues, Lawyers Weekly, March 2, 2001)

Millions have been gone out but we've heard nothing about what's come back in. What's the return? Is it worth the risk?

What accountabilty do the pension plan trustees have to their members and where can members turn if they have concerns or want to know exactly how their money is being invested? In the US, the DOL allowed the expenditure of an additional $200 million to finish renovation of Diplomat after being asked by UA members to intervene. "To deny this ... and not allow the project to be completed at this stage would potentially be disastrous for the fund's beneficiaries,'' said Sue Hensley, spokeswoman for the Labor Department.MFD contributor Downeaster, a concerned member of the CCWIPP wrote to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, which oversees the UFCW's CCWIPP a couple of months ago but so far has only been told that the regulatory agency is looking into it.

We're making our own inquiries and we'll let you know what they have to say.

  • posted by weiser
  • Sat, Jul 27, 2002 3:55pm

Peeeeuke!!

Yes the UFCW got to represent the employees hired into their hotel (found later to be a raid of H.E.R.E.), which was managed by their hospitality company. And even when the buggers basically own and manage their own business, they still sign a sub-standard CA with themselves.

After all this crap:

quote:


11. A great deal of evidence was heard which detailed the interrelationship between the various actors in the workplace. The evidence establishes that Kelloryn is a single?purpose corporation, incorporated to purchase the assets of the hotel, The company was initially incorporated on August 17, 1992, with Ronald Kelly as its sole director. On that same date Ronald Kelly was appointed president, chief executive officer, secretary and, treasurer of the company. Kelloryn has issued one hundred thousand common shares, thirty thousand of which are held by Ronald Kelly, either directly or through a holding company. The remaining seventy thousand common shares are held equally by two companies I.F. Propco Holdings (Ontario) 14 Ltd. and I.F. Propco Holdings (Ontario) 16 Ltd. ("hereinafter referred to as "Propco 14" and "Propco 16", respectively).

12. By way of a loan agreement dated October 7, 1992, Propco 14 advanced to the company a loan in the amount of seven million dollars. A shareholders agreement of same date was entered into between Ronald Kelly, Propco 14 and Kelloryn the terms of which were not placed before me, on May 12, 1993, Propco 16 advanced to the company a loan in the amount?of eight million dollars. A shareholder's agreement of same date, which by its terms supersedes the previous shareholder's agreement of October 7, 1292, was at that time entered into between Ronald Kelly, Kelloryn, Propco 14 and Propco 16. The loan was advanced pursuant to a loan agreemmt between the company and Propco 16 also dated May 12, 1993.

13. According to documentation provided by counsel for the responding party, consisting of a Form 1 "Notice of Change" filed by the company with the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations on September 1, 1993, in October and November, 1992, the officers and directors of Kelloryn were altered significantly. On October 16, 1992, Alexander Ahee was appointed Assistant Treasurer of the company. Mr. Ahee is a Prominent counsel in the labour relations community acting for trade unions. On November 24, 1992, Mr. Ahee was also elected as a director of the company, along with five others Edward McConnell, Clifford Evans, Howard Preston, Ronald Kelly and Hubert Kelly. Mr. Thomas Kukovica, currently the Canadian Director of the United Food & Commercial Workers International union ("the international"), testified under Subpoena that Mr. Ahee is legal counsel for the Canadian Commercial Workers industry Pension Plan ("CCWIPP"), though not for the International. He also advised that Mr. McConnell is an investment manager who works with an investment firm used by CCWIPP. Mr. Ronald Kelly testified that Mr. McConnell was a former business partner of his, that Mr. Preston and Mr. Evans (the latter having been the previous Canadian Director of the International) were appointed to the Board of Directors by Propco's 14 and 16, and that Mr. Hubert Kelly was his brother and partner.


Has anybody taken the time to figure out who made the money and who lost it on that investment fiasco?

  • posted by lefkenny
  • Sat, Jul 27, 2002 5:03pm

Do ufcw union/local presidents receive the same pension benefits as the members they are elected to protect ordo they have their own?

What ya think BP, care to answer this personal question? How about you Brother Fisher, dare to share?

aboutuions

  • posted by BillPearson
  • Sat, Jul 27, 2002 5:58pm

We have an international plan, we can belong to. I've paid 5% of my salary into the plan from the day i started. It was reduced to 4% some years back, when other changes were made. It is a high 4 plan with no cola adjustments with 50% after 20 years and % increases for additional years after that. I've long told staff that it is one of the best benefits we get, and frankly the reason i could argue the compensation in our union was very reasonable. There are many of our members who are promoted into mgmt positions, and their wages are higher than most of us on staff, and in fact several of our members make more than union reps. That's never been a concern for me, because our benefit packages are usually better than theirs.

  • posted by weiser
  • Sun, Jul 28, 2002 8:05am

In Canada, UFCW reps were overpensioned. Reps and full-time officers got cash back to flip into RRSPs. Some guys had local plans, CCWIPP and the International plans.

If you look, you will see some guys flipped from the International payroll to a large local like Local 175. That is usually an idicator of switching employers, so you can get vested in another pension plan. In some instances you may see a local president flip to the International payroll. That may be an indicator of picking up an additional pension.

In Canada UFCW staff reps and officers are extremely well paid and pensioned. When it comes time to retire, they sure the heck aren't retiring on $40 per month for each year of service. Many of them take that, plus, plus....

Check out local 175's payroll and count the number of International employees who have flipped to that payroll in the last several years.

  • posted by siggy
  • Sun, Jul 28, 2002 9:31am

quote:


UFCW reps were overpensioned. Reps and full-time officers got cash back to flip into RRSPs.


I don't understand overpensioned. What is that? Is there a ceiling on the amount of pension a person can contribute or draw? Is it legislated? What?

  • posted by weiser
  • Sun, Jul 28, 2002 2:09pm

Try here for an explanation.

Here's a good place to find out more about Canadian public pensions.

  • posted by siggy
  • Sun, Jul 28, 2002 2:21pm

K .. I know all that part.
Basically being vested in a couple plans would mean maximum allowable, then any other would be cash outs for the lucky ones. Each time an exec. moves to another position and is vested in a pension means another pay out? Are the lucky scums who leech onto this many pensions more apt to transfer it to rrsp's or just pocket the after tax bonanza?

  • posted by weiser
  • Sun, Jul 28, 2002 5:01pm

With the amount of money they make, they'd be in the 55% club, so it wouldn't be much worth it for them to do anything but put the money in any RRSP room they have.

The whole thing is, for the average Jane or Joe at Power Source level, they get the $45 per month per year of service no matter what their pay rate is. For the machine heads and crew, they get a pension up to around 65% of their best three or five years average. That means a machine head who makes $145,000 per year can drag down a pension of $94,000 per year. If the machine head was getting the same pension as the Power Source, (let's say he or she has 30-years service) he or she would drag down $16,000 per year.

Let's say the machine heads and the Power Source all make $50,000 per year after 30 years service. Those of the Power Source get $16,200 per year pension from the plan. The machine heads get $32,500 per year from their plans. Now tell me who is ahead of the game? Who has taken care of themselves the best?

And how many of the Power Source get to call themselves "Clerk Emeritus" and thus have Safeway or Overwaitea give them 1.5 of their yearly salary (let's say $75,000) as a retirement gift and a brand new car for their years of service? How many of the Power Source have Safeway pay them to come to golfing junkets and benefit plan holidays for a few years after retirement?

How many machine heads have the guts to publish their projected monthly pension alongside the average Jane or Joe's projected monthly pension?

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Sun, Jul 28, 2002 5:08pm

All I can say is, if the pension plan that I am a member of was helping the pals of plan administrators buy up bankrupt businesses and other blue chip investments like that, I'd be jumping up and down on the desk of whoever is in charge at the FSCO.

I'd like to know if the directors of those Propco companies that funnel the money from the CCWIPP to the borrowers receive a commission (or some other payment) whenever the tap is turned on. If they do, I would say that is a major conflict of interest.

  • posted by <Sea Breeze>
  • Sun, Jul 28, 2002 6:14pm

quote:


posted by weiser:

The whole thing is, for the average Jane or Joe at Power Source level, they get the $45 per month per year of service no matter what their pay rate is.


http://www.ccwipp.org/news/index.html#CURRENT will show that there is no sealing to the current CCWIPP plan. The thing is you must negociate the ability to mach or better the employers contribution to the plan in your next contract. Placing 5% of your total yearly income in addition to the employers contribution would change your figures substantially. By the by the CCWIPP average return on investment for the last year is 8.5% on a investment pool of one billion dollars, average in today's volatile markets. Negotiating benefits in the labour movement is different than negotiating with an employer, I know I have negotiated contracts as an employer per-say with Federation of Labour full time employees. We lead by example.

Sea Breeze

  • posted by <Downeaster>
  • Sun, Jul 28, 2002 6:47pm

There is a ceiling of 1.05 cents per hour which would give a member a pension of 60.00 per year of pension . We cannot contribute any of our own money into the plan unless it is used to bring a member up to the maximun number of hours (2000).IF the pension earned 8.5% last year then why is our pension being reduced at age 60 for those who were not 50 in 1997 . And why do we need 65 cents per hour to give us 40.00 per year pension instead of 58 cents per hour.

  • posted by weiser
  • Sun, Jul 28, 2002 9:00pm

Hey Sea Breeze, tell us about South Ocean Point Resort and the British Colonial Hotel in the Bahamas. How about the over $100 million CDN put into renovations. How about the Pinestone Resort? Tell us about that investment. How about AFM Hospitality. Show us how much the pension plan has made off that investment since 1997. Tell us about the Kingston Jamaica properties. Tell us about the over $100 million in the Hamilton Galleria. Who got the $5 million from the Bay sale, and who got stuck with the debt? Tell us about Chimo Hotels. Did the plan put money into that enterprise? Tell us a bit about the fleet of jets in the Bahamas that were sold last fall. Do they relate to CCWIPP? Why wasn't CCWIPP able to file its financials on time? Why did they have to ask for permission to file later this summer? How about the Hamilton Connaught. Why did a propco take on that debt? What about the $5 million MGI meats loss. What about Webgalaxy/acubid/asia web/casefinancial. How much has CCWIPP benefitted from that? What about Andora Holdings and Propcos' law firm in the Bahamas? How come they chose to invest in the same enterprise only months after doing the British Colonial deal. Boca Raton Flordia has some very nice mansions. How much do you know about Boca Raton? What about Larry Schwartz and First Capital? How might Larry and his company tie in? Those are questions from page one of a 30-page document of questions. I'll bet you can't answer one of them.

Sea Breeze, you don't know nuttin'! But you will in the next few weeks.

  • posted by weiser
  • Mon, Jul 29, 2002 8:56am

Hey, Sea Breeze, ask your business agent and his boss how much they pay into their pension plans.

You make it sound as if big-bucks pensions are there for the asking. Why is is the only ones who have the good pensions are the paid staffers and their bosses?

The union talks a lot about the great contracts and pensions enjoyed by the members employed in La La Land. The only problem is we haven't been able to find La La Land on the map.

In Canada, there is a huge inequity between what the Power Source enjoys and what the machine heads enjoy.

  • posted by Fisher
  • Mon, Jul 29, 2002 1:16pm

Downeaster we have been told that there is no longer a sealing in the plan and the plus sign next to the 105+ notation indicated the scale of benefits continues past that point. Now for some layman math. Our current employer contributes 58 cents to the CCWIPP plan and when we add 5% of our hourly rate, in my case it means an additional 75 cents we get a total of $1.33 per-hour worked. Using the current scale at $1.05 generating $60 per month pension and by adding the 28 cents needed to equal $1.33 mentioned earlier we get a monthly credit of $74 per month pension. Now take that over twenty years we get $1.480 per month pension or $17,760 per year which equals at this time around 55% of my current income. This is inline with the provisions mentioned earlier concerning the pensions offered to business agents and union executives. Now please keep in mind that as my income goes up so does the 5% added to my pension. As for the questions asked by weiser regarding past CCWIPP investments one would have to be a CCWIPP administrator to answer them. But as far as investing in Hotels and requiring that the jobs be unionised, it is just sound union use of members monies. Attempting to have those jobs filled by UFCW members who contribute to CCWIPP is just sound business practice. As far as the unspoken allegations of corruption within my union and the CCWIPP pension plan, conspiracy theories make for amusing reading but where is the hard proof and why haven't you acted on your suspicions.

In Solidarity Fisher

  • posted by <Downeaster>
  • Mon, Jul 29, 2002 2:36pm

The 75 cents that fisher is talking about has to be negoiated during negoiations . We could pick any figure, perhaps 3.00. CCWIPP has reduced my pension at 60 by 30% and now instead of $40.00 per year of pension iwill only get $35.08. Why would I want to put any more of my money into a pension plan that keeps reducing my pension?

  • posted by Fisher
  • Mon, Jul 29, 2002 2:55pm

quote:


posted by <Downeaster>:
The 75 cents that fisher is talking about has to be negoiated during negoiations . We could pick any figure, perhaps 3.00. CCWIPP has reduced my pension at 60 by 30% and now instead of $40.00 per year of pension iwill only get $35.08. Why would I want to put any more of my money into a pension plan that keeps reducing my pension?


Downeaster you are right we will have to negociate the option of adding to our employers contribution to CCWIPP, that is why I will be suggesting that very thing tomorrow night at our union meeting. As you know we are entering negotiations and this is the time to make improvements. The 5% of salary I referred to was in reference to the pension plan offered to UFCW officials and business agents, earlier mentioned in this thread. I apologise for not making that clearer. The 75 cents was reached by taking 5% of $15.02, my hourly rate.

In Solidarity Fisher

  • posted by weiser
  • Mon, Jul 29, 2002 3:10pm

Fisher, you have to be kidding, bye!

You'd eat a bowl of frozen poop if yer pals told ya it was chocolate ice cream.

Read the damned AFM financials. Read about the London Galleria. Read about the annual returns from Dynamic Mutual Funds. Read about MGI Meats. Read about the huge cost overruns on the British Colonial. Read about Webgalaxy and who was runnin' the show. Read about the acubid fiasco. Read about the RHK Hotels losses.

And if you really believe you have as good a deal as the machine heads, enjoy yer bowl of ice cream. We think it might be chocolate.

quote:


Attempting to have those jobs filled by UFCW members who contribute to CCWIPP is just sound business practice.


Fisher, that's part of the UFCW's problem, they think they are a business. Read that Labour Board decision too. H.E.R.E. was the union at the hotel and the UFCW was using their ownership of the hotel to get the H.E.R.E. out. And not only that, did the UFCW sign a top-rate hotel agreement, so that their members had the best damned hotel contract in town? Not on yer friggin' life. Like I said, they can't do a decent contract even when they practically own and have a big chunk of control over the the labour relations managment of the damned place.

quote:


where is the hard proof and why haven't you acted on your suspicions.


Fisher, what makes you think people aren't taking action on this?

  • posted by Richard
  • Mon, Jul 29, 2002 4:24pm

I dunno, but somebody must be doing something. Lots of activity out this way.

BTW, I just love the new CCWIPP venture.

There are ambulance chasers and then there are those who put gas in the ambulance chaser's cars. Financing law suits is such a normal progression for a UFCW investment. I wonder who is going to supply the cash to loan?

This company has had six completley different lives since it started as Sheen Minerals in BC. Let's hope this one pays off for CCWIPP. Here's some history.

  • posted by Fisher
  • Mon, Jul 29, 2002 6:01pm

quote:


posted by weiser:
Fisher, you have to be kidding, bye!

You'd eat a bowl of frozen poop if yer pals told ya it was chocolate ice cream.
:


From the sounds of it you become very threatened when someone doesn't follow along with your anti UFCW song. Granted I am pro-UFCW but I have arrived at my position through investigation and past experience. Being a rank and file member and someone who dose what he thinks is right no matter what the opposition he faces is something I am proud of. There is a lot of information I have gained from my involvement with this page but sifting through the smoke and mirrors you support your position with has taken time. Attitude plays a large part in the reading of the articles listed throughout this page. If for example I was dissatisfied with my union I would take the suggested improprieties peppered within those articles as proof in support of that dissatisfaction. However if I was satisfied and confident that my union was acting in our best interest I would take the same article quite differently. This is no reason to be threatened because one of us will be proven wrong, or as I suspect the truth will be found some ware between our two positions. This in no way should take away from the importance of open communication, for it is through sites like this that force us to justify our positions where we grow as a healthy union.

In Solidarity Fisher

  • posted by lefkenny
  • Mon, Jul 29, 2002 7:15pm

Brother Fisher,

What position again to you hold with your local? Do you know if your president is in a different pension and or recieves a better pension than those of the ordinary members? You have always seemed to be honest and upfront so I hope asking this of you is not to much to ask.

In Solidarity
aboutunions

  • posted by weiser
  • Mon, Jul 29, 2002 8:06pm

Fisher, I think what the problem may be is that you think that because the machine heads have more money and are paid much, much more than you that that makes them smarter than you.

Rest assured, they are not.

Don't think they got where they are because they are smarter by any stretch.

When you look at the crap at front and centre, you may think that it must be good business because the guys who make the big bucks know what they are doing.

Not so fast, Fisher. Think real hard. Would you put $5 million of your co-workers' money in a failing meat company that had only $670,000 in assets?

Would you put $500,000 of your co-workers' money into an Internet company operated by a bunch of your union buddy pals? Would you feel real smart when the half mil evaporated?

Would you put close to $100 million into a loser shopping mall and take on the debt of all the other investors and debt holders when they wanted to bail?

Would you put money into a Labour Sponsored fund that gave a one percent return?

Would you keep millions and millions tied up in a hotel company that never gives an ROI? Would you stay with a company that when it couldn't repay its debt, it just issues more shares and pays you in shares?

Fisher, please don't over estimate your pals'. You're a smart guy. If it looks stupid, it is stupid.

If CCWIPP was consistently making the returns you say they are, then wouldn't it stand to reason that CCWIPP wouldn't have been in "solvency" trouble?

Think some more Fisher. If you have to work for a CCWIPP employer for about two years before you are entitled to a pension (vested in the plan), what happens to all the money paid into the plan for the tens of thousands of people who leave unvested?

CCWIPP should be rolling in so much dough that its trustees' biggest problem should be what to do with all the extra cash put in for people who will never be entitled to a pension.

With all that unspoken for dough and with the huge returns you think CCWIPP is consistently making what's with the solvency thing? Why was CCWIPP deemed to have too little rather than too much.

Fisher, read the papers. Read all you can about accounting practices. What was acceptable practices in the past aren't acceptable practices anymore.

When the hotel company couldn't pay back the Propco it's millions, and gave shares instead--how did that transaction show up on CCWIPP's books? What accounting practice was applied to that transaction?

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Tue, Jul 30, 2002 5:48am

OK, let's get back to what I think is a fundamental question here:

What rate of return have these investments in hotels and other real estate generated for CCWIPP members?

I would imagine that if the rate of return is in line with what other prudent investments generate, then the union should have no problem whatsoever in making this public knowledge.

During the 1990's many pension funds did extremely well. How did the CCWIPP do? Let's have the facts. The facts will settle this debate.

  • posted by weiser
  • Tue, Jul 30, 2002 11:40am

It would be fantastic to see CCWIPP's investment policy. Here's a good example of one.

quote:


G - Minimum Quality Requirements
Within the investment restrictions for individual manager portfolios, including pooled funds, all portfolios should hold a prudently diversified exposure to the intended market.

- The minimum quality standard for individual bonds and debentures is BBB' or equivalent as rated by a recognized bond rating agency, at the time of purchase.
- The minimum quality standard for individual short-term investments is R-1' or equivalent as rated by a recognized bond rating agency, at the time of purchase.
- All investments shall be reasonably liquid (i.e. - in normal circumstances they should be capable of liquidation within 3 months).

Private placement bonds and Asset Backed Securities are permitted subject to all of the following conditions:

- The issues acquired must be A' or equivalent rated;
- The total investment in such issues must not exceed 10% of the market value of the individual manager's bond portfolio;
- The manager must be satisfied that there is sufficient liquidity to ensure sale at a reasonable price; and
- The minimum issue size for any single security must be at least $100 million.


This will give downeaster some good questions to ask the Ontario Pensions branch (FSCO).

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Tue, Jul 30, 2002 1:13pm

This on-line publication sheds some light on the fiduciary responsibility of pension fund administrators.

ed:link fix

  • posted by Fisher
  • Tue, Jul 30, 2002 4:46pm

quote:


posted by about unions:
Brother Fisher,

What position again to you hold with your local? Do you know if your president is in a different pension and or recieves a better pension than those of the ordinary members? You have always seemed to be honest and upfront so I hope asking this of you is not to much to ask.

In Solidarity
aboutunions


I am a rank and file member who holds no office and believes any improvements made in the Labour Movement through my efforts are improvements my children won't be required to make. Solidarity is much more than a simple word it is a chosen lifestyle for the true unionist. In the matter of International pensions, ones covering business agents and Local executive alike. I can only speak to the pensions offered to BA's. The plan is set up, as I have been told in the following manner. Members contribute 5% of their earnings into the plan and at the end of twenty years the pension is equal to 50% of their best three years average. Any years the member contributes past the afore stated twenty would of corse mean an addition to that percentage, I don't know the formula for increases past twenty years service. Earlier in this thread as a rank and file member of CCWIPP I showed that by adding 5% of my earnings to the existing company contributions into CCWIPP that I would generate a pension equal to 55% of my current income. Granted the pensions offered to local executive members appear to be better but if given the opportunity to negotiate my next contract with the UFCW or Maple Leaf Foods, you can bet your house that the UFCW would treat me better. Lead by example is a philosophy generally accepted with the Labour Movement. Has anyone taken the time to investigate CAW staff pensions, Bob White appears to be making out alright after leaving the CAW and the CLC. I have negotiated contracts in the past with Federation of Labour staff members as treasurer in the PEI Federation of Labour and we lead by example.

In Solidarity Fisher

PS update on a earlier posting:
Tonight's negotiation meeting, as promised I suggested that individuals be given the option of contributing into CCWIPP but the motion was voted down. The consonances was that by opening that door the company would decrease it's obligation and increase and/or require all members to contribute into the plan.

  • posted by weiser
  • Wed, Jul 31, 2002 1:09pm

Fisher, that's strange logic. CCWIPP members who don't have contributions made by their employer equaling a full year, can pay into the plan to make up the year. For example, if you worked less than a full 2000-hour year, let's say .85, you could contribute the equivalent of .15 to make up the difference, so you would be credited with a full year's contribution.

Why can you contribute in that case, but you can't contribute like the business agents contribute to their plans? Does having the business agents contribute to their own plans lessen the likelihood that the UFCW as employer will refuse to pick up a greater portion?

Why is it that in relation to CCWIPP members, the UFCW states that

quote:


all members are treated the same regardless of their rate of pay; all receive the same amount of pension for the same amount of cents per hour contribution based on the number of hours credited in a year.


That means a meatcutter at $50 thousand a year retires with the same pension as someone at $20 thousand a year.

Tell me again why the President of the union doesn't retire on the same pension as a clerk?

  • posted by Fisher
  • Wed, Jul 31, 2002 1:50pm

quote:


posted by weiser:
Fisher, that's strange logic. CCWIPP members who don't have contributions made by their employer equaling a full year, can pay into the plan to make up the year. For example, if you worked less than a full 2000-hour year, let's say .85, you could contribute the equivalent of .15 to make up the difference, so you would be credited with a full year's contribution.

Why can you contribute in that case, but you can't contribute like the business agents contribute to their plans? Does having the business agents contribute to their own plans lessen the likelihood that the UFCW as employer will refuse to pick up a greater portion?


weiser:

During the negotiation process in the earlier stages the members are given the opportunity to place articles of concern in front of the membership in the hopes that they will be adopted and become part of that negotiation process. I have don this and my fellow members rejected my suggestion to allow individuals the option of increasing contributions from there own funds, using the afore mentioned logic as there reasoning. I don't claim to have the ability to read my coworkers minds so I simply repeated statements made in defence of the majorities position. In a union benefits are a negotiate item. As far as the pensions of union officials I can only speak of the UFCW and I have shown earlier in this thread that if given the opportunity to mach the percentage they pay that my CCWIPP return would be in line with there's. In a perfect world compensation for ones work would be much more equal but the facts of current life are what they are. Again I will state that negotiating with the Labour Movement for fair compensation for work don is easier than negotiating with employers. I don't begrudge the salary levels my unions executive receive simply because they don't work from 9 to 5 and call it a day they can and are on the job 24/7 and there incomes are in line with the Labour Movement at large.

In Solidarity Fisher

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Wed, Jul 31, 2002 6:32pm

I must say that the more that I think about the information that is starting to appear on this site about the CCWIPP, the more troubled I am.

In this thread Downeaster tells us about a couple of responses that he's received from CCWIPP officials (including Chairman of the Investment Committee Cliff Evans himself) to questions he asked about the Plan's solvency. It appears that blame is being placed on some "investment adviser" who gave the trustees bad advice. Well, that's something that raises even more questions: Who was this adviser? How long did s/he keep offering up bad advice? What about all the other experts floating around the CCWIPP - where were they when the bad advice was being dispensed? Is the lawsuit happy UFCW suing this adviser for losses incurred as a result of the bad advice?

quote:


I received a letter from CCWIPP asking me to send a copy of the e-mail I received from the Alberta P ension Commission .stating that one of their advestment advisers gave CCWIPP some bad advice who (has since been fired). I sent CCWIPP a copy of the e- mail and I sent a copy to FSCO.I received a letter from Clifford Evans on June 18.2002. The letter is fairly long . THEY SAID THE TRUSTEES APPOINTED AN INDEPENDENT ACTUARY FOR THE PURPOSE OF FILING THE REQUIRED VALUATIONS. THIS CHANGE WAS MADE BECAUSE OF DETERIORATING HEALTH OF THE FORMER ACTUARY.THIE FORMER ACTUARY SERVED THE CCWIPP FOR OVER 20 YEARS AND WAS HIRED BY THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES.


It appears that the blame is being placed on some "investment adviser" who gave the trustees bad advice. I'm not sure what the reference to the actuary who was in poor health is all about - was he the source of the bad advice?

Wherever the blame is being parked, the CCWIPP's response to Downeaster's inquiries is something that raises even more questions: Who was this adviser? How long did s/he keep offering up bad advice? What about all the other experts floating around the CCWIPP - where were they when the bad advice was being dispensed? Is the lawsuit happy UFCW suing this adviser for losses incurred as a result of the bad advice?

Downeaster, is there any way you could share the content of the Evans letter with us? That way we could all see it and get a better sense of what it might mean.

  • posted by <Downeaster>
  • Wed, Jul 31, 2002 7:04pm

Remote Viewer.
I will type out the full letter that I received from Cliff Evans, Tomorrow night . I also sent another letter to Cliff Evans stating that my Questions had not been answered so I am asking them again and adding some more. Our Questions started back in 1997, with a letter to Kukovica and a reply from Cliff Evans that tha Alberta regulatory authorities have raised a number of issues pertaining to the solvency of CCWIPP . I am still waiting for a reply from L martello of FSCO.
Downeaster

  • posted by Richard
  • Wed, Jul 31, 2002 8:19pm

If any of you have concerns about CCWIPP, and if Mr. Martello is slow in getting back to you, e-mail his CEO and ask the questions. Contact Phil Howell at phone: 416-590-7000 or email: phowell@FSCO.gov.on.ca

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Thu, Aug 1, 2002 4:07am

Would it be easier for you to fax it, Downeaster?

  • posted by <Downeaster>
  • Thu, Aug 1, 2002 1:55pm

Yes it would What is your fax number.
Downeaster

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Thu, Aug 1, 2002 7:01pm

Could you be persuaded to register? If you registered, I could send you a fax # through the private message feature.

You don't have to reveal any personal details to register - just a login name (you can use the one you're using now and an email address (make one up at hotmail if you want to). Be sure to click "yes" to the questions about receiving private messages. You can access private messages by clicking the [b]profile[/i] button at the top of the page once you're registered.

If you'd rather not register, let me know and I'll post a fax # that you can use.

  • posted by Downeaster
  • Fri, Aug 2, 2002 1:55am

I have already registered. I sometimes do not log-in when I make a reply.

Downeaster

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Fri, Aug 2, 2002 7:16am

Fax # is in your private message box. Thanks much.

  • posted by Duffbeer
  • Sat, Aug 3, 2002 12:05am

This article at Benefits Canada is from Nov/99 but seems to fit into this discussion.

Are multi-employer pensions at risk?

quote:


Current low interest rates are now revealing solvency deficiencies in multi-employer pension plans across Canada. Plans may increasingly find that paying off a solvency deficiency may not be possible at current hourly contribution rates, especially given the decline of hours worked in many unionized industries. Pension plans in such positions may be forced to reduce benefits being paid or those being accrued by working plan members.


quote:


Governments, regulators, plan sponsors and plan members should be concerned about the financial health of multi-employer pension plans. It is increasingly likely that, in some multi-employer pension plans, fewer members will get full value in their pensions in relation to the contributions paid for the hours they have worked. Relaxing solvency requirements cannot lead to improvements in the financial security of cash-strapped pension plans.


  • posted by Duffbeer
  • Thu, Aug 8, 2002 12:28am

Well , the CCWIPP site has just had its annual update.

Page 1 :

quote:


This website is provided as a reference to those parts of the Canadian Commercial Workers Industry Pension Plan ("CCWIPP") which most often attract questions. This website does not purport to nor does it describe all of the provisions or benefits in detail. The Trustees of the CCWIPP Trust Fund disclaim any responsibility or liability whatsoever for any errors or omissions, claims, damages, or costs arising out of or reliance upon or use of all or any part of this website.

ATTENTION CCWIPP MEMBERS

In our ongoing efforts to better serve you, we are expanding our current website to include an Interactive section. Please visit us in October when you'll be able to access your personal information and secure forms.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about this Plan, please click here to access information regarding the Administration Office serving your area.


The here above is Page 2. That's about it.

The email address for feedback [mailto:ccwipp_at_pbas-toronto@mail.pbas.ca] appears to be connected with this "Under Construction" site: The PBAS Group
Anyone heard of them?

  • posted by weiser
  • Thu, Aug 8, 2002 6:57am

PBAS used to stand for Prudent Benefits Administration Society. It was then inorporated as a numbered company. Now it is incorporated as Prudent Benefits Administration Services Inc. It's offices are on the main foor of 61 International Blvd, the home of UFCW Canada and others.

It's high-flying "board" are the usual Cliff cronies.

The PBAS staff in all provinces are covered by a Local 1977 CA. One business agent represents them all. What a crock. The CA is unenforceable in any province except Ontario because Local 1977 isn't a "union" in any province except Ontario.

You might want to ask yourself why Locals use PBAS to administer their benefits. Because they are union (UFCW)?

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Fri, Aug 9, 2002 12:12pm

I have often wondered why it is necessary to have these separate benefits administration firms in the first place.

Even in really large companies that administer their own benefit programs for 1000's of workers, the administration is usually handled by a handful of clerical or administrative workers in a "Benefits Department". They receive applications from new plan members and get them enrolled in the plan. They receive claim forms and check claims them to make sure that the person submitting them is enrolled in the plan and forward them on to the insurance company which pays the worker whatever s/he is entitled to. Most of the work is just record keeping and claims processing.

Usually there is a manager or coordinator who supervises the operation and sometimes goes out and shops for other coverage and that sort of thing, but you sure don't have all kinds of people running around administering the plan or plans.

I wonder how much these firms charge for their services and whether administering benefits is more costly when done this way versus just having a small group in the union office looking after benefits.

  • posted by weiser
  • Fri, Oct 25, 2002 4:10pm

I've noticed that CCWIPP has reported the Bahamas hotel and golf course accounts rather cryptically. They don't use RHK Capital, they report the activity under PRK Holdings Ltd.

They also report costs and fair value at identical amounts. For example:
I.F. Propco Holdings (Ontario) 34 Fair value = $70,223,000 Cost = $70,223,000
I.F. Propco Holdings (Ontario) 39 Fair value = $33,477,000 Cost = $33,477,000
I.F. Propco Holdings (Ontario) 44 Fair value = $18,738,000 Cost = $18,738,000
1328434 Ontario Limited Fair value = $6,026,000 Cost = $6,026,000
PRK Holdings Fair value = $404,000 Cost = $404,000

This is just like they reported the MGI Meat Packers--even though MGI went belly up in 2001 owing CCWIPP $5 million but MGI only had $600,000 in assets.

They don't report the RHK Jamaican properties the same way. I wonder why?

And holy shit! They paid a total of $4,175,589 to Prudent Benefits Administrators Services (PBAS) and Benchmark Decisions Ltd.

That's a whole lot of administration and consulting for just the pension plan. Apparently CCWIPP owns 30% of PBAS and PBAS owns 100% of Benchmark Decisions. I wonder who owns the other 70% of this company that's dragging in over $4 million to bank and process the pension cheques?

  • posted by Shadow
  • Fri, Oct 25, 2002 4:39pm

Are you saying that the CCWIPP has poured over $120 million into some hotel in the Bahamas that's owned or was owned by the company run by Ron Sins of the Father Kelly?!!!

  • posted by weiser
  • Fri, Oct 25, 2002 5:15pm

Not only one hotel, but a hotel and another hotel with a leased golf course. I've heard that the hotel/golf course is in not good shape, and that the leasor has threatened to take back the golf course. No golf course and you've got a pretty worthless hotel.

The British Colonial had a renovation cost overrun of almost double the original estimate. Something like what happened at the UA's Diplomat hotel in Florida.

As well, we earlier were carping about the $1 million lost in Acubid, well it seems like the books show a $1,522,000 loss, but I'd expect that it may be greater, but the 2002 statement will tell better.

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Fri, Oct 25, 2002 5:40pm

What or who the hell is Benchmark Decisions?

  • posted by weiser
  • Fri, Oct 25, 2002 6:32pm

Please! Try not to laugh....

quote:


BENCHMARK DECISIONS LTD.

Good benefit consulting, like resourceful cooking, transforms assorted ingredients into unique concoctions that are both appealing, to the consumer, and affordable, for payer. Remove either result, and the service is questionable. Remove both, and it fails.

Exceptional benefit consulting is harder to find than a fine restaurant. The Micheline Guide doesn't extend that far. But, there are other indicators, such as talent mixed with meaningful experience, and integrity driven by purpose, that should attract plan sponsors.

By way of illustration, most of our consultants -- themselves a bend of talents -- have been mixing clients' needs and resources in successful recipes for years longer than our firm has existed. With backgrounds in insurance underwriting, retirement planning, actuarial science, industrial relations, program design and documentation, and benefit communication, their work is governed by strictly-applied doctrine:


Visit the fine folks at PBAS

  • posted by Richard
  • Sat, Oct 26, 2002 1:38am

quote:


That's a whole lot of administration and consulting for just the pension plan. Apparently CCWIPP owns 30% of PBAS and PBAS owns 100% of Benchmark Decisions. I wonder who owns the other 70% of this company that's dragging in over $4 million to bank and process the pension cheques?


I'd ask how much the PBAS board members drag down in stipends. You will remember that Bernie C. has retired as President of Local 832, but he says he'll hold on tight to the benefit plans. He's a major player with PBAS.

$4 million and change is a lot of dough. Consider this, the change amounts to $175,589. A person earning $25 an hour (based on a 37.5 hour office week) with an additional 23% in benefits (that's a real hefty benefits package) costs about $60,000 per year. Hire three people at that rate and the employer has to pay around $180,000 per year in salaries and benefits. I figure the equivalent hours for three full-time people is more than enough to do all the data gathering and input for a pension plan the size of CCWIPP. That leaves close to the $3,995,589 to pay for office space, an administrator and some profit at at70/30 split between CCWIPP and whomever owns the other 70%.

Since CCWIPP owns Queens Plate Drive, office space should be no problem. I'd think that CCWIPP could decorate a bit of space at Qeens Plate (maybe Dave Harvey could spare a couple of square feet) and hire two chumps and pay them $200 an hour each to act as plan actuaries and administrators and pay 25% in benefits. That would cost CCWIPP about $975,000 per year. That leaves $3,020,589 to pay the rent to (perhaps Dave Harvey or one of Cliff's other associates) and still have a load of money left over.

Considering that PBAS does a whole bunch of business in benefits aside from CCWIPP business, I'd say it's doing pretty fine, but CCWIPP should really look at operating its own administration.

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Sat, Oct 26, 2002 6:53am

Holy cow! Who are those Benchmark Decision people? Their ad copy is the most poorly written crap I've seen in a long time. Any why - in this day and age - would any business consulting company be using words like cooking and concocting when peddling their wares?!

These are only a couple of the many, many questions that are coming down the wire for CCWIPP trustees and UFCW Canada.

  • posted by siggy
  • Sat, Oct 26, 2002 8:07am

All this talk about pension monies has me suspicious about contract negotiations. While I know benefits are great for the power source to have in the agreement and the machine is always really eager to tell us they got them.
Benefits and pensions have become first on the list of things to bargain for, behind a decent wage pkg. Are these for the Power Source or is it play money for the greedy who leave enough crumbs to make look like we ate?

The benefits pkgs. negotiated for the power source are beginning to look more like a tool for big_biz and biz_u.

Have employer contributions simply become the employers' cost of doing business with an employer_friendly machine?

  • posted by weiser
  • Sat, Oct 26, 2002 9:30am

Oh don't forget Education and Training Funds.

Roll your pension plan into CCWIPP, give us money for the Ed & Training fund, kick in more per hour to the PBAS administered Health & Welfare benefit plans.

  • posted by siggy
  • Sat, Oct 26, 2002 10:32am

That really pisses me off. I thought negotiations were about getting better things for the Power Source, not about wheeling and dealing the ins and outs of pigs troughing.

Basically the Power Source might stand a chance of negotiating a better wage and adequate benefits if the employers weren't stoopid enough to pay it all to keep a corrupt machine in their control and from making noise?

No wonder negotiation teams are kept silent at the bargaining table, they have no idea it's not about the proposals, it's about the exchange of favours.

  • posted by Secret Agent
  • Sat, Oct 26, 2002 1:12pm

CCWIPP has paid Benchmark Decisions Ltd. over $1.5 million in consulting fees since 2000. Secret Agent wonders what's cooking?

  • posted by weiser
  • Sun, Oct 27, 2002 7:28am

Even though Mikey Fraser is the Canadian Director, his uncle Cliff Evans still controls a fund that invests in businesses--purely for capital gain.Dynamic Ventures Opportunites Fund Ltd.

quote:


FOR THE YEARS ENDED AUGUST 31, 2001 AND 2000

1 . CORPORATE INFORMATION

Dynamic Venture Opportunities Fund Ltd.,
(the "Fund"), is incorporated under the laws of Canada by articles of incorporation dated January 11, 1993. The Fund is registered as a labour sponsored investment fund corporation

under the Ontario Small Business Investment Funds Act (Ontario) (the "Ontario Act"). The Fund is taxable as a mutual fund corporation under the Income Tax Act (Canada) (the "Tax Act") and the Ontario Act. The Tax Act and Ontario Act allow an individual to invest in Class A shares of the Fund and obtain a personal income tax credit. The Fund makes investments in eligible Ontario businesses with the objective of achieving long-term capital appreciation.

The sponsors of the Fund are the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Canadian Region, the Labourers International Union of North America, the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (collectively, the "Sponsors"). The Sponsors hold all the issued and outstanding Class B shares of the Fund.


Clifford Evans is Chairman of the fund, and he's the investment committee chair for CCWIPP. I just can't understand why is there such a difference in the quality of investments between the two funds? Granted, neither is a great performer, but sheesh, Dynamic has no where near the amount of stinkers that CCWIPP shovels money into. Isn't there some sort of Prudent investor rule?

The following link is to a Paper delivered by Joan Tanaka, President of PBAS and Benchmark Decisions that collected over $4 million from CCWIPP last year: PBAS on Pension Issues.

I've read the CCWIPP Financial Statement for 2001 and I don't think CCWIPP paid as much attention to Joan as they could have. You'ld think for $4 million they'd hang on every friggin' word that came out of her mouth or that she puts down on paper.

I've also noticed that CCWIPP invested close to $58 million with Goodman & Company Investment counsel. I believe Both Dundee Mutual Funds and Goodman & Company, Investment Counsel are divisions of Dundee Investment Management & Research Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dundee Bancorp Inc., an investment management firm.

They are the same guys who run Dynamic Mutual Funds, which Cliff Evans is the Chairman of that fund. If the money went to Dynamic, would that be a conflict of interest for Evans?

Again, why isn't Mikey the Chairman of UFCW Canada's fund? Why would the UFCW pay twice when they could have Mikey for free 'cause he's already being paid full time by the UFCW. He's paid to manage UFCW affairs and finances.

One last note: I notice that CCWIPP shovelled about $2 million out to another labour Sponsored Fund--Retrocom Growth Fund Inc. Why would a pension fund be giving a mortgage to another fund with loads of dough?

  • posted by Richard
  • Tue, Oct 29, 2002 1:11am

Should you keep a close eye on how so-called elected union officials spend their time? You bet you should.

Read more about the ULLICO crew. You'll notice that Lenore Miller (retired UFCW VP) is on the board, and you'll notice that they took retired UFCW International President Bill Wynn off the list after he died. However, he was alive and on the board when the deal went down.

Check out how much these people get paid for their extra-curricular activities--and this is just one of many boards that these people sit on. Ask Wayne Hanley how much he makes for showing up at AFM Hospitality meetings.

We pay these guys hundreds of thousands to represent us full time--including time on pension and benefits boards--and they double dip big time.

The question was asked why these farts hang on so dearly to pension and benefits posts--well think about it.

  • posted by Troll
  • Wed, Oct 30, 2002 9:36am

Seems reminicent of "Mouse Land." Cats have been elected to run the unions.

Is there some sort of radiation that eminates from a business enterprise that turns the managers into Cats?

  • posted by <Downeaster>
  • Thu, Oct 31, 2002 1:01pm

If you go buy the audited financial statements for CCWIPP for the year ending Dec.31,2002.there is an unfunded liability on a going concern basis as of Dec. 31 2000.of $97,589.693 which is projected to be paid off within a time frame allowed by the
regulators.
Does anyone know what this means and how is it to be paid off, I suspect. by reducing the members benifits.

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Fri, Nov 1, 2002 8:28am

An unfunded pension liability is an estimate of the cost of the future retirement payments of current members for which the Plan doesn't have funds already set aside. As I understand it, it's not that uncommon for pension plans to have unfunded liabilities at certain times. The pension regulations, however, require that there be some kind of strategy for getting rid of the unfunded liability within a certain period of time.

Unfunded liabilities can develop for a number of different reasons. Among those: The granting of past service credits to members enrolling in the plan, improvements in benefits, changes in demographics, changes in actuarial assumptions and fluctuations in investment earnings are some of those.

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Fri, Nov 1, 2002 9:36am

A good glossary of pension jargon.

  • posted by licatsplit
  • Fri, Nov 1, 2002 11:44am

quote:


A good glossary of pension jargon.


Top Notch! Thanks RV!

  • posted by Duffbeer
  • Fri, Jan 3, 2003 1:20am

AFM Hospitality Announces Completion Of Sale Of Canadian Ramada Master Franchise Rights

The fine print at the bottom is my favourite part:

quote:


This press release contains certain forward-looking statements and information from AFM Hospitality Corporation relating, but not limited, to the company's operations, anticipated financial performance, business prospects and strategies. Forward-looking information typically contains statements with words such as "anticipate," "believe," "plan" or similar words suggesting future outcomes. The results or events predicted in these statements may differ materially from actual results or events. By its nature, AFM Hospitality Corporation's forward-looking information involves numerous assumptions, inherent risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to the following factors: changes in business strategies; general global economic and business conditions; the effects of competition and pricing pressures; hotel industry overcapacity; shifts in market demand; changes in laws and regulation; uncertainties of litigation; labour disputes; timing of completion of capital or maintenance projects by both franchised and managed hotels; currency and interest rate fluctuations; various events which disrupt operations; and technological changes.


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