TPAF, in reversal, votes to retain outside counsel

Seeks advice on pension lawsuits

Published on Friday, July 11, 2014

TPAF Letters
On June 4, NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Sean Spiller, President Wendell Steinhauer, and Vice President Marie Blistan delivered over 23,000 letters to TPAF demanding legal action to protect the pension system.

On July 10, the Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF) Board of Trustees  voted to seek outside counsel to advise them in the increasingly complex legal environment surrounding pension funding. 

In reversing a June 5 vote not to seek outside counsel, the TPAF Board now joins two other pension boards in seeking legal advice to assist in determining their fiduciary responsibility for funding the pension system under Chapter 78 of the Acts of 2011.

On June 4, NJEA’s officers delivered more than 23,000 letters from TPAF members urging the Board to retain outside counsel to advise them on their legal obligations under Chapter 78.  The law specifically says that the boards of trustees of the various pension funds have the same right as individual members of those funds to sue the state if it fails to make its annual required contribution (ARC) under to the funds, as delineated by Chapter 78.

NJEA has already filed suit against Governor Chris Christie, who violated Chapter 78 when he removed $900 million from the FY2014 ARC, and another $1.5 billion from the FY2015 ARC.

On June 4, NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer said: “NJEA has already announced that it will sue the Governor, in conjunction with other unions.  But the law also allows the Boards of Trustees of the various pension funds to sue in order to protect the integrity of the funds.  Our members demand that the Trustees take action to protect their contractual right to a well-funded, secure pension system. We will watch carefully to see if the trustees will represent the members of the funds, or just defer to Gov. Christie’s illegal plan.”

The TPAF trustees voted not to seek outside counsel on June 5, but yesterday’s vote now aligns them with the PERS (Public Employment Retirement System) and PFRS (Police and Fire Retirement System) boards in seeking outside counsel to advise them moving forward.

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