Click here for a short summary of the issue. Click here for a detailed timeline.
See also the Pension Rights Center website.
Click here for ex-St. Peter's CEO John Matuska's 2011 letter to the IRS.
Click here for ex-St. Peter's VP of HR Bruce Pardo's 2011 letter to the IRS.
Haga clic aqui para verun resumen del problema en español.


Friday, February 24, 2012

ST. PETER'S TO REPLACE PENSION PLAN BY 2013

In a letter, released on Friday afternoon to minimize media coverage, Saint Peter's Healthcare System CEO Ronald Rak announced a plan to end the existing Saint Peter's Healthcare System Retirement Plan in 2013. The letter can be viewed here. In this letter Rak made several statements that are false and/or contradict statements made by St. Peter's management in December 2011 town-hall meetings. Specifically:
  • Rak claims, multiple times, that the plan has never been subject to Federal ERISA law. In this he cites the hospital's outside benefits consultants and attorneys, but the claim ignores actual documented history.
  • Directly contradicting statements made by COO Pat Carroll and CFO Garrick Stoldt in December, St. Peter's will seek refunds of PBGC insurance premiums. (We can assume that, also contrary to claims made by the hospital in December, the pension benefit will not be insured going forward.)
The hospital plans to replace the current plan with a new plan, the details of which will not be announced, but rather divulged only in discreet individual and small-group meetings. St. Peter's deems this tactic more "appropriate" but, like the Friday letter, it seems designed to limit exposure and discussion of the details by a large constituency or the media. It's unknown whether the new plan will be another defined-benefit plan, a retirement savings plan (401(k)) or some combination. Presumably the new plan will be cheaper to implement, and thus will return more than the annual PBGC insurance premium to the hospital's bottom line. It's safe to say the St. Peter's employees, ex-employees and retirees who are participants in the pension plan at the very least feel confused and dismayed at the deviousness displayed by hospital management.

We will have more on this news in coming days. In the meantime please tell your friends and your co-workers, past and present, and subscribe or visit the blog for the latest.

(Note: This post was edited on 2/27 to add more information and to dial back some language that may have been unduly harsh.)

26 comments:

  1. I like the way St Peter's will "craft" a new pension plan. "Crafty" is more like it; especially since the pension plan booklets that were distributed to the employees during my employ there specified that the pension plan was covered under the ERISA rules.

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  2. Maybe Mr. Rak is hoping if he says its never been an ERISA plan enough times people will believe him. There's more evidence to show this is an ERISA plan. All the Summary Annual Reports (SAR) and IRS form 5500's that are on file with the Department of Labor will show for years that this has been an ERISA plan. I have a copy of an SAR from the 1992 plan year if someone wants to add it to the documented history section.

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  3. I read Mr. Ronald Rak's letter this morning at work that Saint Peter's is never been an ERISA Plan. How can he say that! I think he is the one that is confused. He spend 7 million to build a new church What for? We already have a nice chapel in the third floor. That's our pension! How can they changed the old plan. That is not what is says on the booklet when I was first hired. It's political! He does not care about his employees. The new comer screw us all!!!

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  4. LETS GET A COPY OF THE "ORIGINAL" PENSION PLAN DOCUMENT SHALL WE?
    THIS WILL END THE NON-SENSE ONCE AND FOR ALL!
    KEVIN

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    1. Totally agree! I guess Mr Rak forgot that thousands of Pension Booklets (stating that the pension plan was ERISA protected) were distributed to St Peter's employees throughout the years.

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    2. It is unfortunate that we cannot pay for the pension guarantee insurance on our own; SPUH is showing their true colors; current and past employees have no reason to TRUST the Rak administration and anyone alligned with the notion that our pension plan was outside the Erisa Rules. Since it is likely that everyone protesting here has done some research on what Church Plans are really about,then it is obvious why the hospital doesn't fit the model a Church Plan is meant to serve; let's see what the diocese will have to say when people are financially injured by these decisions and they are dragged down with the bitter feelings and bad press that has and will continue to scar the reputations of SPUH, the diocese, the church and all associated with these decisions; maybe the "Church Affilliate" should step in and stike down the ideas of the RAK administration: his actions are deceiptful and lack the compassion one would expect from any employer, let alone one of religious affiliation; or, maybe the religious affiliate should financially pitch in to make things right so that the many dedicated employees who have worked collectively for hundreds (even thousands)of years for St Peters will not have to worry about security or future; is the Washington Lobby, funded by the Church, so rich and full of arrogance that it would work to break spirits and hearts in a blink of an eye? Are the administrators at SPUH talking about taking less pay so that no one suffers loss? If the lies of the RAK administration were dollars, our pensions would runneth over.

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  5. The Rak administration are trying all tactics to come out the winners. we worked and earned our pensions and I for one do not trust one word they say.....as they say in Hollywood..."SHOW ME THE MONEY."

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  6. The Rak administration can't show money because they spent our money left and right by creating positions like corporate style that's never been there before unnecessary higher positions. In Mr. Matuska's administration, it's only few VP's and each department has a Manager, Assistant Manager, Supervisor but not all- it depends of what department. In Mr. Matuska's administration, he was the CEO, COO, & CFO but now three people against one person. That's were the mega bucks are!

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    1. New name for the 3 in the above post the SPUH CEO,CFO,COO....."RAKateers".....business they conduct "RAKateering"; decisions and outcomes will lead to ruin of hard working dedicated folks who have already paid their dues only to lose what they were promised as they worked themselves into the ground dedicated to the sick and injured. What a RAKet....Even if this whole thing turns upside down and the Church Plan is rightfully put aside there are alot of people who may not recover from the worry and suffering this has caused them. The Pension Rights organization confirmed that the Church Affiliate will not step in to "save" the pension fund, as they have never created, funded or managed it. So keep it up everyone....let the RAKateers feel the heat from the spotlight known as the public eye. let the RAK administration know that there is no place of respect for them; let them know that their sticky fingers do not keep this place together but work tirelessly at weaving a web of deceipt to trap in it the people who labor daily to do what is needed to keep this place together...wouldn"t our time be better spent believing in our abilities to deliver the quality care to our large community that has grown to expect it? We deserve the rest and security that comes with the retirement we were promised or awarded.

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    2. Wake up employees & pensioners of SPUH. If former managers, Bruce Pardo, VP of HR and John Matuska, CEO, CFO, & COO have serious concerns, you had better be alarmed. Keep in mind if Bernie Madoff can swindle the high society types, Ronnie Raketeer is certainly capable pulling off a bait & switch. When it comes to accounting, always keep in mind that figures can lie and liars sure can figure. Rak is an outright liar or why were premiums paid to the PBGC for so many years? It started with your medical plan getting watered down, then your sick bonus got phased out, next will be your pension. If you never felt the need to organize labor within SPUH, how much more must happen before the rally cry calls you to take action? Throw tomatoes at your meetings, get belligerent, stand up to these dirty rotten scoundrels hiding behind the facade of the Catholic Church. Perhaps your pension money is being raided to defend all the molesters & pervs within the church? Those lawyer fees are surely adding up, that could be the rationale behind siphoning off your ERISA plan into a (Catholic) "Church Plan."

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    3. He does not care at all! He is already 200% vested in another company before he came aboard at SPUH the same thing with the new CFO and COO for short they care less! I just hope that the IRS will will do the right decision. We are the ones who are exposed to diseases handling sick patients and in healing/exhaling the same air. While the big shots are enjoying their luxury offices fixtures and we just have their junk if they are sick and tired of it they will just replaced it with new ones. For real, SPUH employees should have the best benefits because of exposure to bacteria. The new administration has no compassion to their employees. Legally Mr Rak can't change of what we are promised. Meaning, there will be a big law suit coming...Wake guys! I am very thankful to Mr. John Matuska, former CEO, CFO, & COO and Mr. Bruce Pardo former VP of HR they have serious concerns to all employees that dedicate their life to care for the sick patients. So please wake up!!!!!!

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    4. I agree that SPUH's interests are only for their benefit. As both Mr Matuska & Mr Pardo have mentioned in their letters, SPUH was never a Church Plan. Both of these gentlemen were definitely in positions to have access to the pension records.
      The main reason for the change in the pension plan is the total 'misapptropriation of funds' by the present SPUH administration.
      I feel that SPUH is too far gone now to ever regain their footing within the community as a 'caring' hospital. Hell, they can't even care for their own, no less strangers off the street!

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  7. I agree that the new administration are only for their benefit. They are not caring anymore. It use to be very safe to work in SPUH but not anymore all those compassion and caring does not exist anymore, they are evil including these higher Priest. They are covered by their heavenly look with their heavenly clothing. They keep praying I wonder what they are praying for? Money!!!

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  8. Does everyone receive the full color St Peter's Brochure that uses the heading Saint Peter's Healthcare System "TREATING YOU BETTER.....FOR LIFE ? How many feel that there should be an asterick nest to that with a warning that states:

    *****DOES NOT INCLUDE THOSE EMPLOYED BY OUR HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

    What the RAKateers want to do with the pensions is clearly not a joking matter. They do not have good intentions. There is not a way to sugar coat this

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  9. Yes! You are right! It only treat the people for life if you have $$$. If you don't have money SPUH will bill. Treating you for life these excludes employees! We already suffer! Do they care? nope! I don't think so! They are all wearing a mask to cover how they really are the evilness inside them. They are smile visiting the sick patients together with the Bishop & the cardinal. All those cameras are clicking and videos to post on the web how kind they are and good heart and most especially Mr Rak, and his follower all the Raketeers are there. What a shame!!!

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  10. Has anyone seen this? I would like to stick it down Ronald's throat! Please check it out! kevin and Mary

    Please copy and paste to your browser, list of "closed" hospitals
    http://www.njha.com/Press/Pdf/ClosureList0309.pdf

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    1. Yes, saw this like last year! Lets get in touch with Eric Loi and see how to get the original pension plan documents.
      kevin

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  11. OK, just received the new letter about the pension plan change. Still confused as to whether or not I will still receive a pension check after December 31, 2012.
    I am out-of-state, so I can not attend the meetings and my letter did not have a phone # to call with questions.
    Anyone have any answers? I would greatly appreciate any feedback. Thanks in advance.

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    1. We apologize for the lack of updates the past few weeks/months. We will get a comprehensive update posted in the next several days. The short answer to your question is yes: If you are a retiree today, the current plan should continue with NO CHANGE (according to SPUH management). If you are a current employee vested in the current plan, you will cease vesting in the current plan as of the end of 2012, and the hospital will both maintain the old plan (with your vesting frozen, but with the other numbers intact) and start contributing to the new Defined Contribution plan on your behalf. Upon retirement you will be eligible for benefits from both the current pension plan and the new DC plan. SPUH says they'll have more info in the mail next week, though this probably pertains only to the new plan. Hope that helps for now!

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    2. Thank you. I can rest a little easier now. I guess only time will tell.

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  12. Have I missed something? Has the IRS made their decision yet? If not, what will occur happen since they have stopped paying our pension insurance benefits without the final ruling being made.

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  13. DID THEY COMPLY OR NOT? READ BELOW!

    SECTION 2. BACKGROUND
    Section 414(e) generally defines a church plan as a plan established and maintained for its
    employees or their beneficiaries by a church or by a convention or association of churches which
    is exempt from tax under § 501 (church plan). For purposes of § 414(e), an employee of a
    church or a convention or association of churches includes an employee of an organization,
    whether a civil law corporation or otherwise, which is exempt from tax under § 501 and which is
    controlled by or associated with a church or a convention or association of churches.
    Section 1.414(e)-1 of the Income Tax Regulations provides that a church plan is a plan
    established and at all times maintained for its employees by a church or by a convention or
    association of churches which is exempt from tax under § 501(a), provided that the plan
    otherwise meets the requirements of the regulations.
    To qualify under § 401(a), a retirement plan must meet certain requirements, including the
    minimum participation requirements under § 410(a), the minimum coverage requirements under
    § 410(b), and the minimum vesting requirements under § 411. A church plan (for which no
    special election described below has been made (nonelecting church plan)) is ordinarily not
    subject to various requirements that apply to tax-qualified plans under § 401(a) and is not
    covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

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  14. Also: I had dinner this week with Ronald Rak
    at 26 Bissell road, Lebanon, NJ
    He really does know how to cook!

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  15. Everyone is afraid of retaliation at St Peters University Hospital. A common practice witthing the hidden walls of this hospital.

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  16. I like to know why everyone that has left spuh and is vested are not getting any letters or anything about this that they only get the news either from the paper or if they run into old co worker I have been out of spuh for 8 years and am fully vested and if I didn't run into some one I never would of known about this am also out of state. this is bs we all known the truth why are they doing this. am about ready to go for my pension do I have one

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    1. If you are a participant in the plan you should have received the August 22nd letter from SPUH regarding the IRS ruling. But you have a point -- the hospital has communicated very little and only when they absolutely had to.

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