2020’s Virtual Summit Takes On
Challenges Posed by COVID-19

The 2020 CORPaTH Summit on Dec. 16 was a virtual event about real-world developments in the fight for defined-benefit pensions.

While the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to meet in person, the CORPaTH community was able to learn about trends and developments from the perspectives of internationally renowned experts appearing on several panels via GoToWebinar.

The Summit began with CORPaTH Executive Director Ron Auer introducing Jacques Loveall, president of UFCW 8-Golden State and chair of the UFCW Trust in Northern California. Jacques noted the day marked the anniversary of the Day of Solidarity, a massive rally by supermarket workers in the midst of a 144-day strike and lockout in Southern California.

Loveall said the 2003-2004 labor action, in which more 72,000 workers endured hardships for the sake of livable wages, health care and pension security, was “one of the most inspiring moments of my life.”

Today, he said, “they’re not on strike, but they are fighting a virus, and they’re doing it with the same perseverance, sacrifice, and commitment to their community and to one another. And the sacrifice they are making is absolutely heroic.”

“We have an obligation to match their sacrifice, to match their commitment, to match their perseverance in delivering our promises to them,” Loveall continued. “CORPaTH’s promise is to deliver a reliable retirement security benefit, to defend the defined-benefit pension plans. And it’s been your support throughout the years which has made it possible for us to keep that key component of collective bargaining agreements front and center in the discussion, at the bargaining table, in the public, and in the legislative level. We are deeply appreciative for that support.”

The Summit’s next speaker was U.S. Rep Andy Levin (D-Mich.), who was introduced by Auer as “a union organizer, a human rights activist, a policy expert and green energy entrepreneur who has spent his entire career fighting for an equitable and inclusive future for all people.” In Congress, Rep. Levin serves as vice-chair of the Committee on Education and Labor and its subcommittees on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, and Higher Education and Workforce Investment.

Rep. Levin said America is dealing with “the worst health crisis in a century and the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and we just need to do much, much more to shore up the situation of workers in this country.” He cited the need for an enforceable OSHA standard for all workers and more direct economic assistance for them as well.

Addressing the subject of pensions, he noted “hours have been way down for many kinds of workers and contributions into these pensions have unexpectedly taken a big hit. We need to shore up the pensions that are in trouble, and not simply doing it by putting all of the burden on the healthier funds.”

In addition, leaders in a variety of pension-related fields participated in the following panels:

  • “COVID Impact on Commercial and Residential Real Estate, Revenue, and Construction”: Peter Palandjian, Intercontinental Real Estate; Cory Carlson, Washington Capital
  • “Economic, Political and Actuarial Observations, Challenges and Responses”: Dan Doonan, NIRS; Hank Kim, NCPERS; Jason Russell, Segal Actuarial; Michael Scott, NCCMP
  • “COVID-19 Impact Perspectives on the Workforce and Defined-Benefit Pensions”: Rome Aloise, Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Plan; Larry Brown, NUPGE; Matt Kimbrough, SAG-AFTRA.
  • “Investment Challenges in Disrupted Investment Frameworks”: Tim Barron, Segal Marco Advisors; Alan Biller, Alan Biller and Associates; Jeff MacLean, Verus; Jim Meketa, Meketa Investment Group.

CORPaTH is an international alliance bringing pension fund decision-makers together for sound investments, good governance, social responsibility, and a rational policy for economic growth.

CORPaTH is a network supporter of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UN-PRI).