Vacation Account Forfeiture?

Wow. I really thought that the “Vacation Deduction” from our Wage & Benefits package was still part of our Wage & Benefits. The latest letter received from the Board of Trustees at the Puget Sound Electrical Workers Vacation Allowance Plan have decided that an account shall now be considered dormant after 24 months of inactivity. Apparently it was 36 months before this change, but the length of inactivity for dormancy isn’t the biggest issue here. The big story is the FORFEITURE OF YOUR MONEY when your account is classified as dormant. The Trustees seem to think it is perfectly fine to TAKE YOUR MONEY if your account is dormant. I guess they figure they can take it if you are going to spend it anyway…

I sure thought Washington State has laws about “unclaimed property” in “dormant accounts”… oh wait, they do… RCW 33.20.130 Dormant Accounts

When any savings member shall have neither paid in nor withdrawn any funds from his or her savings account in the association for seven consecutive years, and his or her whereabouts is unknown to the association and he or she shall not respond to a letter from the association inquiring as to his or her whereabouts, sent by registered mail to his or her last known address, the association may transfer his or her account to a “Dormant Accounts” fund. Any savings account in the “Dormant Accounts” fund shall not participate in the earnings of the association except by permissive action of the directors of the association. The member, or his or her or its executor, administrator, successors or assigns, may claim the amount so transferred from his or her account to the dormant accounts fund at any time after such transfer. Should the association be placed in liquidation while any savings account shall remain credited in the dormant accounts fund and before any valid claim shall have been made thereto, as hereinabove provided, such savings account so credited, upon order of the director and without any other escheat proceedings, shall escheat to the state of Washington.

I wonder if this change has anything to do with the removal of the “Vacation Deduction” column from the latest Area Wage Report? The more I pay attention, the more I don’t trust the Trustees.


Stop The Double Dippers

The Employee Benefit Security Administration is part of the Department of Labor and oversees portions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. ERISA is the governing laws and regulations regarding pension plans, including ours. The pension trust must file annual reports with the IRS to stay in compliance with the law. Here are some details from the most recent filing that I could find. To have a look yourself, search for it here.

# of Participants: 3706, contributing $8,249/year $30,570,146
Receiving Benefits: 1537, receiving  $26,571/year ($40,839,271)
Investment Gains (Loss): $45,865,772
Operating Expenses: ($2,894,006)
Net Gain (Loss) 2015: $32,702,641

Those are the basic numbers… there is a lot more detail in those filings which will make your eyes glaze over, but… according to Jim Tosh there are around 78 retirees who are currently working and about half of those are working in the industry with an “exception” from the Trust. The “retirees” who aren’t retired are costing our pension plan around $1 MILLION dollars per year. That money is a subsidy that benefits the employers who no longer have to make pension contributions on their behalf, and it contributes to the depletion of our pension fund.

We pay for these exceptions benefit a few former members and their employers. The Foremen and General Foremen now classified as Superintendents, Head of Personnel, Quality Assurance Specialists, CAD / Revit Specialists, and or Safety Officer. These guys and gals are receiving a paycheck for their work and receiving their pension benefits at the same time. They are double dipping. They got into these positions through their participation in our collective bargaining agreements, and they continue their role with their employers by changing the title of their position so they can be reclassified as a “non-bargaining” unit member.

In return for this, the active participants in the pension, get to be told to reduce our future benefits, increase our current contributions, and don’t bother trying to retire at 55.

Pension plans are not supposed to be modified to benefit a few people at the expense of the majority of the participants. These exceptions reek of an ERISA violation.

Pension Fight

Does anyone else feel like the Hall is really trying to push through their agenda as quickly as possible? The Business Manager attempts to move up the pension meeting a month ahead of the 90 day waiting period, and there was an article in the Sparks about how the changes must be made as soon as possible.

Hang in there folks, this fight is not over unless you let it be. The Business Manager was blocked from moving the meeting up to February, and in case everyone forgot, the pension is NOT in “Critical Status”. That means we have time. We can make small changes and see how things work out. We DO NOT have to give away Early Retirement, but we do have to GET INVOLVED.