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.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another Brick in the Wall

A new letter from St. Peter's CEO Ronald Rak has been emailed to all St. Peter's employees. It reads:
Dear Saint Peter’s Retirement Plan Participant:

The administration of Saint Peter’s Healthcare System is grateful for your many thoughtful comments during the recent town hall meetings to discuss the status of your Saint Peter’s pension plan. We hear your concerns and as a result we are actively investigating ways to protect your retirement dollars, with the help of new outside experts to guide us in that mission.

The result of our efforts in this regard will be shared with you no later than February 28, 2012. Again, please know your concerns have been heard. A copy of this letter is also being mailed to every retirement plan participant at their home.
Note: the IRS comment period ends January 20, 2010. With this letter, St. Peter's management informs us that they plan to stonewall the pension plan participants until long after it's too late to effect any change in the IRS decision. Download the letter here.

It's vital that letters be sent to the IRS before the close of the comment period. The Pension Rights Center's sample letter is located here. We will make customized versions of this letter available for download very soon; stay tuned. In the meantime, please let us know your thoughts: comment at the link below. Both signed and anonymous comments are welcome.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Access to Blog

The settings have been changed to allow access without a Google account. Please let your contacts know about the site so we can keep participants informed about what is happening.

Monday, December 26, 2011

No Reply

In September 2010, former Saint Peter's CEO and current pension plan participant John Matuska wrote current CEO Ronald Rak, stating his concerns about the hospital's "church plan" strategy. When no reply was forthcoming after four months, Mr. Matuska wrote Bishop Paul Bootkoski of the Diocese of Metuchen and Monsignor David Malloy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in January 2011. To date, Mr. Matuska has received no reply to these communications. It's unclear why Mr. Rak and the other esteemed personages have deemed the former CEO's concerns unworthy of a reply. Read the letters below:

Please feel free to comment by clicking on the comments link below. You can comment anonymously.

Your Pension At Risk

Saint Peter's University Hospital has applied to have the Internal Revenue Service recognize the Saint Peter's Healthcare System Retirement Plan as a "non-electing church plan." This would strip away the basic protections provided under Federal law to virtually all other private-sector pension plans. Church plans:
  • Do not have to give employees information about their benefits or about plan investments.
  • Are not required to pay benefits fairly.
  • Are not required to adequately fund the pension plan.
  • Are not covered by the federal pension insurance program that guarantees most private pension benefits.
The church plan exemption, once granted, lasts forever. In numerous cases, most notably that of the Hospital Center of Orange in 2006, employers have used the church plan exemption to escape their pension obligations and make the money available for other uses.

Saint Peter's management has been stingy with information about the move, and not entirely honest about its consequences. If you are a plan member, please review the information on this website, take action to convince the IRS to deny the church plan ruling, and get others involved. It is especially important that retirees come forward, as current employees are terrified of retaliation from Saint Peter's management, and there is no database of retirees outside of the hospital. The IRS's comment period closes January 20, 2012.

For a great introduction to the issues, see this blog post and this series of fact sheets from the Pension Rights Center. Please stay tuned for upcoming posts, which will detail the timeline of events and offer strategies for saving your pension from this imminent threat.

Please leave your comments and suggestions below by clicking the "N comments" link. You can leave comments anonymously. Thanks for getting involved -- your participation is crucial!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Church Plan Status

The administration of SPUH needs to answer several questions regarding the conversion to Church Plan status. Is the plan going to be funded in accordance with ERISA funding standards? If not, what funding method will be used? Is there any plan to reduce current benefits? If so, by how much? These are simple yes or no questions.