General Treasurer Seth Magaziner today joined retired members of the St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island pension plan to propose new transparency requirements for pension plans managed by religious organizations that collectively cover thousands of Rhode Island workers.
"What the employees and retirees of these hospitals are going through is unacceptable," said Treasurer Magaziner. "All workers and retirees deserve to know the truth about their health of their retirement savings."
More than 2,700 current and retired employees of St. Joseph and Our Lady Fatima hospitals are now facing unexpected benefit cuts due to the poor condition of their pension plan, and recent reports suggest that other church pension plans in Rhode Island may also be facing financial challenges.
"Working at St. Joseph's was more than a job," said Marilyn J. Horan RN, M.Ed. "I was born at the hospital and had the privilege of spending my 40-year nursing career at St. Joseph's. My friends and colleagues, who have given their lives to the care of others, were kept in the dark about health of our pension plan. We must take steps to ensure that members of church-based pension plans in Rhode Island are kept informed about the health of their plan - so that this never happens again."
Treasurer Magaziner announced that he will seek legislation in the 2019 General Assembly session that would require pension plans managed by religious organizations in Rhode Island to send regular updates on the financial health of the pensions to their plan participants.
Joining the call for transparency was Chris Callaci, Legal Counsel for United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP).
"Many people knew that this pension fund was unsustainable without continued financial support, and they said nothing to the 2,700 members of the plan," said Mr. Callaci. "It's heartbreaking. Hard-working caregivers and health professionals, who spend their careers serving their communities, deserve better".
The federal Employer Retirement Security Act (ERISA) requires most private pension plans to send members a letter each year outlining the health of their plan. Publicly-managed pension plans like the Employees Retirement System of Rhode Island are also required to publish key financial information each year in accordance Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) standards.
Pension plans administered by religious organizations are exempt from both ERISA and GASB reporting standards, however, meaning that members of these plans often have no ability to access information regarding the financial health of their pensions.
"Church plans should be transparent with their members just like other pension plans, so that working people in Rhode Island aren't blindsided like this again," concluded Treasurer Magaziner.
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Evan England, Director of Communications (401) 222-2240 | (401) 439-2199 (mobile) firstname.lastname@example.org