Facebook Public Pension Groups Replace Unions, Protecting Worker Retirement Savings

Link: https://pensionwarriorsdwardsiedle.substack.com/p/facebook-public-pension-groups-replace

Excerpt:

On the other hand, my experience conducting a forensic investigation of the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio on behalf of the 20,000 member-strong Ohio Retired Teachers Association has convinced me that Facebook groups can be a powerful force to combat looting of America’s pensions by Wall Street. In Ohio, two Facebook groups, Ohio STRS Members Only Forum (36,000 members) and the STRS Ohio Watchdogs (14,000 members) are vigilantly working to expose gross mismanagement at STRS Ohio identified in a forensic investigation I completed.

This past week, I was introduced to another vibrant Facebook group pushing for reform of the Minnesota state pension system. While the name of the group, Pension Reform for Tier II Minnesota Public Educators, may not be catchy, with nearly 19,000 members it also appears to be a formidable advocate. In the group’s words:

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It’s no secret that most of our nation’s public pension funds are grossly underfunded. Not surprising, the single greatest concern of pension participants today is whether the pensions they rely upon for their retirement security are prudently managed and if pensioners will receive all the benefits they have been supposedly promised.

While for over two decades I have implored unions to get actively involved in scrutinizing the management of pension investments—serving a watchdog function which pension boards are ill-equipped to perform—rarely have I been successful in persuading these unions that the best way to preserve pensions is to expose and address problems, not hide them. Unions tend to believe that any criticism of pensions will only lead sponsors to no longer offer them to workers.

Author(s): Edward Siedle

Publication Date: 9 Jan 2024

Publication Site: Pension Warriors on substack

Damschroder: Ohio teachers pension mauled by Panda

Link: https://www.thenews-messenger.com/story/news/2021/03/03/damschroder-ohio-teachers-pension-mauled-panda/6883736002/

Excerpt:

The Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) revived oversight theater, a suit and tie simulation of supervising the $200 billion state pensions. In the first act, ORSC started the process for fiduciary audits of the teachers and police and fire pensions a mere five years after their legal deadline.

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In reality, STRS has recent evidence that alternative investments come with the risk of massive losses. The Ohio teachers’ pension was one of the first investors in Dallas-based Panda Power. Panda is a merchant generator building plants run by cheap shale gas to produce more profitable electricity. The business model collapsed when utility regulators did not approve anticipated rates. Panda’s bankruptcy filing showed debt of $400 million against cash on hand of $2,000.

Author(s): John Damschroder

Publication Date: 3 March 2021

Publication Site: Fremont News Messenger