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.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Update from John Matuska

To All SPUH Retirement Plan Participants:

I was invited to meet with representatives from SPUH to discuss the proposed changes to the retirement plan. The meeting was attended by Garrick Stoldt, Chief Financial Officer; Steven S. Radin, Esq., Vice President, Corporate and Legal Affairs; and Susan Ballestero, Vice President, Human Resources.

I would like to thank them for the invitation and the opportunity to share the concerns of plan participants. The meeting was an open and frank discussion of the issues and the confusing communications that have been sent to plan participants.

I also spoke to representatives at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) and the Pension Rights Center (Center).

As always, there are two sides to a story.

According to Mr. Radin, “SPUH has submitted the Center’s interpretation of the pension laws to their attorneys. The attorneys for SPUH state that they disagree with the Center’s interpretation. They have pointed out that the federal courts that have reviewed the issue have emphatically rejected the Center’s position, noting that such position has no basis in the law.”

Mr. Radin also stated that “they also informed the Hospital that the statement by the PBGC representative is inaccurate since the PBGC itself has issued written guidelines that not only rejects the view by the PBGC representative, but requires, as explicitly stated in the law, that in order for the retirement plan to be covered under the PBGC insurance rules, the Administration must affirmatively elect such coverage with the IRS and affirmatively notify the PBGC that it intends for the plan to be covered. There has been no election by any administration of the Hospital at any time. Thus, the plan of the Hospital according to their attorneys has been a church plan from its inception and continues to be so.”

Mr. Radin also went on to say “that the Hospital cannot afford to meet ERISA’s requirement to fund the plan in the future based upon a combination of factors, including discount rates and current interest rates. SPUH intends to fund in the future a defined contribution plan to protect all beneficiaries.”

The Pension Rights Center has a different view of the law. Their lawyers point out that when ERISA was enacted in 1974, the definition of a church plan was a plan “established and maintained by a church” for its own employees, like a plan set up by a diocese for clergy and lay employees who work directly for the diocese. Clearly the SPUH plan didn’t meet those criteria because the Diocese of Trenton, now the Diocese of Metuchen, did not set up the SPUH plan. It also did not run the plan and had no control or financial responsibility for the plan.

According to the Center, the SPUH retirement plan was an ERISA plan insured by the PBGC beginning in 1974, and it remained an ERISA plan when the law was amended in 1980 to cover plans that were established and maintained by churches for both their own employees and also for employees of affiliated hospitals and schools. They also point to a Treasury regulation that says that “if at any time during its existence a plan is not a church plan… it cannot thereafter become a church plan.”

The Center’s lawyers are sympathetic to SPUH’s financial situation but do not think that it should be addressed at the expense of the security of participants’ pensions. They note that there are provisions in the laws that allow the IRS to modify funding requirements for employers facing financial hardship.

If SPUH does not withdraw its ruling request to the IRS, and the IRS rules that the SPUH retirement plan is a church plan, this issue will be have to be decided in the courts.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to post them on the blog and we will try our best to answer them.

Sincerely,
John Matuska

32 comments:

  1. Thank you Mr. Matuska for being so involved. It certainly makes a lot of us feel better. I guess the simple question is what's it all mean?I've read the letter a few times and really don't have a clue as to what's going on.

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  2. Hey every-one, how convenient is it to invite only a select few to a closed meeting about your pension? Why wasn't everyone told of this meeting John? and given the chance to have some input? I have said this for years and maintain the same thoughts today--that Saint Peters and most of the former officers are so full of it that their eyes are brown. kevin and mary

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    Replies
    1. Just like SPUH to continue treating everyone like mushrooms......being kept in the dark and fed bullsh-t.

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    2. Kevin and Mary, whoever you are, what have you done to advance the cause so far? There are people who talk and people who do, which group do you belong to?If you have something constructive to say, please respond ,it will make my day.

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    3. This should help!Look at this!
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mevxenJ6Mtc

      Ask Eric Loi who I am.
      By the way, this board is not for arguments!

      Delete
  3. Past Hospital upper managment has shown that they usually backed other managers on several occasions, when Lazette Deleone was a nursing supervisor and some of the nurses had legitimate on-the-job injuries! My warning, do not trust any-one from Saint Peter's
    That demonstrates behind the scenes actions, or has not be honest with us on this website. Thanks, Kevin

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  4. Fruther-more, The Hospital is NON-profit, which means they do not have stock holders, so what do they do with their money? Also interest rates are so low, you can look up to see the bottom, Who is kidding who here?

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    Replies
    1. What money??? That's the reason their unable to fully fund the retirement plan. The reimbursement rates from the insurance companies are ridiculous. If you want to bring in patients you have to be on a participating hospital list and agree to the reimbursement rate from the insurance company. Here is one example --- a four month stay for a infant born prematurely and one of the largest insurance companies in the state Horizon BCBS. Even though the infant requires intensive care, Horizon only pays the daily rate for a infant requiring routine care. If the infant is discharged and then comes back and needs intensive care then they would be reimbursed at the ICU rates. So out of a One Million dollar bill - do you know how much Horizon reimbursed SPUH? --- 10% or $100,000 - the balance was paid in part by funding from government and/or written off as a loss. I'm sure there are many more examples of how "discount rates" given to insurance companies are impacting the financial health of the hospital.

      Also with interest rates so low - the dollars in the retirement fund have not grown as expected - which also compounds the funding problem.

      While I don't agree with how the hospital is handling this whole pension issue, there is a very big lack of money at the root of this issue.

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  5. I'm at a lost for words as to why you, Mr. Matuska, were personally invited and not the rest of us. Why? Why is it we are being notified of the supposed results of the meeting after the fact? Sounds very sneaky to me.
    The fact that the IRS is taking its time to make the ruling is good news. St. Peter's retirement was never meant to be a church plan. Sounds to me they made poor financial decisions and now the employees , former employees and retirees will be the ones to pay for it!
    Why buy a chapel for over $400,000.00, not having a clue where to put it, spend possibly millions to install.....but let's change our retirement to church plan status since the hospital is hurting financially!
    Totally wrong! Totally unfair! St. Peter's is really acting like a bully! Hiding behind lawyers and big words....Who's relaying these to people who do not understand English and have spend years as a loyal employee of St. Peter's?
    Or even those who lack the education? Stop trying to pull the wool over our eyes!

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  6. Mr. Matuska,

    Sounds like you got a deal? How much did they offer you? What was your price? Who elected you to represent us?
    Another sneaky snakelike move by good old St. Peter's!

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  7. For those of you who want a meeting with SPUH Administration, pick up the phone and request one. There are a lot of people who sit back and do nothing but criticize everyone else. If anyone has more relevant information on the issues, post it so everyone will have better insight. If not,think before you act.

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  8. You folks who are complaining have't the foggiest idea of what you are taalking about. Did you attempt to have a meeting with Ron Rak and his associates? Did you write to your congressman or meet with your congressman, did you speak with reps from Pension Rights Org? Did you write a letter to the editor and have it published? Did you attempt to do anything, other than stand behind an anonymous letter and complain about things that you did nothing to protect? I met with John and the Senator's representatives. I had an article published in the Home News trying to protect YOUR pension. I met with a Congressman to try to protect YOUR pension. Did you set up a blog site so that YOU can complain about people that you don't know. Obviously, you do not know the integry of John Matuska. All you know is what the "sheep" are telling you and what you may have thought if you worked at SPUH while he was CEO. I know that John has no personal interest in this situation. He left before these folks came on board and his pension has been set many years ago. He did not have to sign an "non-disclosure" agreement like the senior administrators who were let go by the Rak regime. If you knew what you were talking about, you would immediately contact your Congressman/Senator. They are the ones that you should be complaining to. I too have nothing to gain by supporting this effort. I have my pension from SPUH ($700.00 per month). The loss of that will not affect my life style. I got involved, just like John because I have a concern for my former fellow employees. You folks that are complaining are complaining to and about the wrong people. Take out your anger on Ron Rak and his team of fellow lawyers who are screwing you to death. Good luck when you lose your pension or when a 401-k in installed and you make the wrong decisions as to where to invest your part of the money. Then you will wish that John Matuska was there helping you. I signed as anonymous because I have difficulty signing in by my name, but I am Larry Kaplan and those people who worked with me know who I am.

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  9. So far no-one has come up with any formal documents that tie Saint Peter's to the church, or for that matter the archdiocese. Come on people you can do better than this? Where is the original pension plan document? This will show exactly what and how the plan was set-up andt the structure of the pension plan. Maybe Saint Peter's is waiting for some of you to kick the bucket and they will not be obligated to send you a pension-after all that is the theory behind being 35% UNDERFUNDED.

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    Replies
    1. In 1977, ownership of SPUH was transferred from the Grey Nun's to the Diocese of Trenton and then to the Diocese of Metuchen when it was created.The certificate of incorporation and bylaws were amended to reflect these changes.The Pension Rights Center is trying to get copies of the original and any amendments to the retirement plan trust document.

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    2. Thanks, if you copy and paste the below link, it shows
      a Hospital run by the Grey Nun's. This is in Canada,
      I am going to try to get a complete history on the
      Hospital Property, block 64, lot 5.01


      http://cupeab.cupe.ca/updir/cupeab/agreements/L41caritasgreynuns.pdf

      Delete
  10. Perhaps people should get all their information straight before the make accusations about how involved and how much time and effort some people have been fighting this cause

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  11. First, big thank you to those who took the time to set up this site and seek more information on this subject.

    I'm having a hard time with a section from the letter above ---- “ as explicitly stated in the law, that in order for the retirement plan to be covered under the PBGC insurance rules, the Administration must affirmatively elect such coverage with the IRS and affirmatively notify the PBGC that it intends for the plan to be covered. There has been no election by any administration of the Hospital at any time.”

    For the time I was at SPUH each year the hospital was sent a bill from the PBCG for insurance coverage – Why would the PBCG send a bill if the hospital did not “affirmatively elect such coverage”?

    Wasn’t the IRS “affirmatively” notified each year the hospital filed IRS Form 5500 for the retirement plan? and the PBCG “affirmatively” notified each year the hospital sent in a check for the premium?

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    Replies
    1. The PBGC doesn't know an organization is exempt from ERISA unless it is notified.If the organization's retirement plan is deemed a church plan by the IRS, the organization will notify the PBGC and include the IRS determination letter.
      SPUH never considered its retirement plan to be a church plan until 2006 when it filed for an IRS ruling.The last year premiums were paid was in 2010 for the fiscal year 2009.The SPUH retirement plan is now on the PBGC inactive list.

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  12. Just a little more info on benefit terms that some might not be familiar with ----- For each retirement plan there is a “Plan Document” that spells out in gruesome detail the rules of the plan. A copy of this document is kept by the employer , the company that administers the pension benefits and the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C..

    Then there is a “Summary Plan Document” also known as an “SPD” that is a shorter version of the original plan document that should be distributed to every plan participant. Sections from the ERISA Rights section of this document have been posted on this website.

    In addition there are forms that the employer must file with the federal government regarding the financial “health”(pun intended) of the plan. The IRS form 5500 is filed every year showing how many plan participants, the amount of money in the plan and the amount the plan has paid out, etc. Then the plan is required to distribute a shorter version of that form called a “Summary Annual Report” also known as an “SAR”.

    For many years St. Peter’s filed all the above documents and forms and presented itself as an ERISA protected plan – distributing SPD’s and SAR’s to its employees. Then in 2006 the Pension Protection Act (PPA) was enacted. It required that sponsors of defined benefit pension plans provide plan participants with certain information about the funding of the plan. One of these requirements is called an Annual Funding Notice. I believe it was around this same time that the hospital began their “church plan” crusade. Does anybody know if the hospital has distributed any notices to employees concerning the funding of the retirement plan since 2006?

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  13. Does anybody know if any of the remaining Catholic hospitals in New Jersey are experiencing similar actions by their administrations? Any others file for church plan status after decades of being an ERISA plan?

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    Replies
    1. I don't believe any other Catholic hospitals in NJ filed for church plan status. Many of them may have converted to church plans when the IRS expanded the definition in 1980.

      Delete
  14. To whom it may concern,
    this hospital system is sinking faster than an Italian cruise ship. With Rak and Carrol at the helm, start think about a better work situation. There are job openings at RWJUH. Why should you have "faith" in an administration that hides behind religion to cheat it's employees.

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  15. Does anybody know why in 2010 Mr. Rak received a bonus of $290,000 in addition to his regular salary $500K+ ? Take a look at the hospitals tax return IRS Form 990 (schedule J) Part III for 2010. It’s on page 39 at http://207.153.189.83/EINS/221487330/221487330_2010_07c6dc0b.PDF

    These forms also show the contributions made to the supplemental pension plan for the executives - yup they have their own plan

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  16. Great post -

    urge you all to check this site

    http://207.153.189.83/EINS/221487330/221487330_2010_07c6dc0b.PDF

    Check the executive salaries (page 40)

    Rak $610,000
    Connelly $466,000
    Stoldt $318,000
    Ballesterso $295,000

    there are others - you have to look

    the one that stood out for me was this gem (from a hospital in that wont (not can't) properly fund its pension

    Page 27 -

    are you kidding me?

    $3,919,432

    Great cause, but shore up your base first, c'mon you folks are way over paid to be making decisions as foolish as this....

    hey, wanna buy a chapel?
    how about a few more billboards?
    anyone up for a piano?
    flag poles - cmon - you gotta love flag the flag poles.

    Cut your salaries - cut your expenses - Fund the Pension

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  17. i would really like to get involved.

    Edit: Nevermind. That would take too much time away from me complaining about things via message boards on blogs.

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  18. I am very thankful and grateful for the all of the support for the situation with the pension plan, especialy, Mr. Matuska's efforts. I feel confident that the truth will prevail. It also helps to see the salaries of the executives posted and that they have their own separate pension plan. I just want to be able to take care of myself. I have worked long and will have no where near what the executatives make just annually when I retire with a pension. The gap between the have and have nots keeps getting bigger. Where is the humanity?

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  19. I was wondering if anyone attended the meeting last Thursday 7/26, for retirees and term vested participants? Did the meeting start on time? Did it last longer than the allotted one hour? Was there a question and answer session? Any info you care to share would be much appreciated.

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  20. I'm trying to change a whole lot of things around in my schedule to attend the next one on 8/2 and was wondering about the meetings too

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    Replies
    1. I had lunch with Ronald Rak today, at
      26 Bissell Road in Lebanon, New Jersey!
      He told me everything is going to be OK, just a bunch of sheep to deal with and Saint Peter's will win!

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  21. I had brunch today with John M. and Ron over at 26 Bissell road in Lebanon New Jersey, There is Alot on the plate there!

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  22. I KNOW I HAD LUNCH WITH RON IN LEBANON? DO YOU NOT BELIEVE ME?

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  23. ohh gee my comment was deleted? what is with that? NO BALLS?

    ReplyDelete

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