How Independent is Central States “Independent Counsel”?

The Central States Pension Fund’s Independent Special Counsel’s most recent quarterly report calls into question just how “independently” he functions. 


In his recent 17-page report, he fails to mention even one sentence regarding the massive opposition to the pension-cut plan pushed by the pension trustees! Even a casual observer of the fund has noticed dozens of active committee, thousands of participants at rallies, thousands more voicing opposition at Treasury Department town-halls. How could our independent watchdog fail to take note of any of it?

Retired federal judge David Coar, the Independent Special Counsel appointed by the court, issues quarterly reports, which are public since TDU members went to federal court to bring them into the light of day. But the reports have come to resemble press releases, more than a watchdog report.

Examples from the March 14, 2016 report on the 4th quarter of 2015:

  • The report re-hashes once again Central States support for legislation in 2010 (six years ago!) that would aid CSPF members (page 4). How about demanding similar support now for the Keep Our Pension Promises Act?
  • The report highlights the role of CSPF’s hand-picked retiree representative, former Hoffa representative Sue Mauren, while failing to note her obvious conflicts of interest (page 5).
  • The report on page 6 repeats the claims of CSPF management that most participants will not lose a penny under the proposed cuts, without noting that thousands of these so-called lucky Teamsters have less than five years in the fund so aren’t even vested. In fact, in 17 pages, the report never mentions that most Teamsters presently facing retirement or recently retired would get cut by 50-70%!
  • On page 7 the report notes the large number of comments submitted by participants to the Treasury Department, but fails to mention that over 90% are against the proposed cuts. Also, the report never mentions the comments submitted by the AARP or Pension Rights Center.
  • The report contains a whitewash of the Trustees’ responsibility to oversee the members’ money by stating (page 8) that the investment allocation of CSPF is “required by the consent decree.” This is a cover-up, since it was the CSPF trustees who voted on April 20, 2010, for the exact allocation of funds presently in effect: with Northern Trust managing 50% and 50% in certain accounts designated by the CSPF trustees by their vote. The fund staff then prepared an order for the Judge to sign, which he did on June 25, 2010. This is exactly how investment decisions have been made for well over 30 years, including when the Trustees selected Goldman Sachs to manage our money (with no opposition from any watchdog), but you would never know it from the Independent Special Counsel’s report.

Central States participants are asking that the watchdog of the CSPF do more than just reflect the PR coming out of the fund.

Related Stories: See Who Dropped the Ball on Wall Street’s Losses for Retirees and see Central States Pension Fund: $16.1 Billion

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  • sean langley
    commented 2016-04-19 15:22:01 -0400
    Richard Jennings > ‎NBC News

    I challenge the national media to tell the story and ask our government “how did you let this happen ?” “who is going to be criminally charged?” " how are you going to make them whole?". How did the Executive branch, the courts, Congress, and the President fail to protect the interest of retirees and undo ERISA laws that have protected workers for decades ?

    Central States Teamster pension fund, control was taken in 1982 by a court order to remove the Mafia because of real estate improprieties in the investment of the pension funds financing Las Vegas casinos and other issues.
    The court ordered the Government and Trustees to watch over the fund and do what was in the best interest of the individuals who it represented.
    The fund grew large enough it also fell under Taft Hartley guidelines.
    The giant banks deemed to large to fail that were ultimately found responsible for fraud and mispresentation contributing to the global financial crisis of 2007-208 were left in charge of the fund. Disregarding fiduciary responsibilities and guidelines for a pension fund of it’s size. Disregarding guidelines of Taft Hartley act. Yet still while under the “watchful eye” of the court ordered government control of the fund since 1982.
    Goldman Sachs was fined billions of dollars for their part of fraud contributing to the recession. The 2nd primary giant bank also involved in the
    Crisis the same story. These were the giant banks deemed reliable to be in charge of our pension funds and their ways of investment lost more than comparable size funds and charged us more in fees all under the government’s watchfull eye.
    How do we lose more with their help then when the Mafia was involved?
    The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp created by ERISA laws in 1974 has had no problem charging premiums to insure our fund…. yet the government has underfunded it and informed the Teamsters it cannot insure their fund now because it would bankrupt the PBGC. Teamsters didn’t underfund it you established the premiums. We should be insured at full value.
    ERISA was enacted to protect working peoples pensions from corporate thieves closing companies and emptying the pension funds. Guaranteeing that retiree benefits would never be challenged, reduced, cut once earned. Because the employee had worked all their life to earn that benefit.
    Yet hidden in a must pass finance bill in December 2014 having nothing to do with government budget was a bill now referred to as MPRA. Never brought to the floor for discussion, never talked about how it would affect millions of seniors and retirees pensions reducing incomes by up to 70%. Also hidden in it were the unusual nondemocratic methods of voting. Never discussed how it would undo ERISA.
    So here we are in one of the wealthiest countries of the world, that sends its military to other shores defending human rights and free elections and we are now guilty of our own political leaders taking those cery righrs from those least able to protect themselves our senior citizens on fixed incomes and many in decling health.
    Even more surprising that our media isn’t telling the story that is challenging over 270,000 currently retired members receiving checks facing income cuts up to 70%, many too old or physically unable to return to work to offset those losses of income. 410,000 total members of the fund or how this will affect millions of others who are also in multi employer pension funds. What are you waiting for? When you talk about economic impact many will lose homes, file bankruptcy, have to make choices between food or medicine. When are you going to tell the story?? Are you waiting until we are filling the courts with bankruptcy forms and homelss on the streets?
  • James Cooper
    commented 2016-04-05 20:36:24 -0400
    The goverment allowed this to happen, the goverment should make it right.
  • Edward Coombs
    commented 2016-04-05 20:11:43 -0400

    The best I could derive from the chart on my home page was 205k retirees. 32k age 74-79 reduced and 40k over 80, leaves 133k unprotected by age. 136k getting cut 40% or more and of them 57k are cut 40-50% and 79k are getting cut 50% or more. Of them 2,444 are being cut over 70%
  • Gregory Smith
    commented 2016-04-05 18:48:16 -0400
    There’s a lot finger pointing going on right now. Who is going to be held responsible for the Central States mismanagement of our many years of pension contributions by our employers?
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