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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004

    Law shields churches, leaves pensions unprotected for health care workers


    PASSAIC, N.J. (AP) — Working at St. Mary's Hospital was all about making do. When supply shelves emptied, respiratory therapist Lori-Ann Ligon made frantic calls to compatriots at nearby medical centers, arranging meetings on the fly to barter for blood gaskets. For a couple of years, she and other managers were told the endless budget squeeze left no room for raises.

    But when St. Mary's outlasted two competitors to become this city's lone hospital, executives heralded a new era: "Not just health care. Human care."

    That care, though, only went so far.

    "Presently, the retirement plan's trust is severely underfunded," the CEO wrote to employees in early 2011, blaming investment losses and the hospital's decision not to put any money into one of its pension plans for more than a decade. "As a federally recognized church plan," he continued, St. Mary's had the right to do that — and there was no government pension insurance to fall back on.

    The news angered many St. Mary's workers, but their situation is not unique. Pension shortfalls at some religiously affiliated hospitals, businesses and social service agencies are raising new alarms and spotlighting a largely overlooked gap in the law protecting Americans' retirement benefits.

    "I felt betrayed, not only by the health care system, but by the Sisters of Charity, and I got betrayed by the church," said Armantina Pelaez, a former crisis counselor at St. Mary's, which quietly converted its federally insured pension plan to an uncovered church plan in 2001. The hospital's pending purchase by a for-profit company will see Pelaez and others get a fraction of their expected pensions. "They don't practice what they preach."

    Much more in 8p. article.....

    "The further we (as the human race) grow away from the natural world, the quieter the natural world becomes and the more pathological we become as a culture."........Bernie Krause

    The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation......which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.......George Washington

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    New England
    Awful. Many orders of nuns are actually in the same predicament. The church worked them for years as teachers paying them nothing or close to it, and putting nothing towards their retirement. and now that there are so fewer nuns and they are all aging, many orders have no money to even take care of their own elderly and infirm sisters.

    What is happening with these hospitals though sounds more duplicitous than negligent or short-sited though. Everyone knows they aren't going to get rich working for a charitable entity, but when a worker is counting on a pension plan there are obviously expectations that the money is safe and will actually be there for retirement!
    “Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all." -Abp Oscar Romero

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