Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Game changer: AFICS/NY President response to request for meeting under the Bylaws: Sorry, we changed the rules! No meeting -- and matter closed!

Game changer: AFICS/NY and Governing Board: a model of responsibility and accountability to its dues-paying members.

On 12 June 2015, 82 AFICS members sent a letter to the AFICS/NY President and Governing Board requesting a meeting on pension matters. In their first response (23 June) we heard about “legal and practical constraints” before a date and a formal agenda could be set; next (25 June) there were  “critical practical constraints and possible legal issues”; on 2 July, we had “the By-Laws do not impose a specific time-frame; then on 9 July, it was the MOU is on hold, there’s no rush; we can plan a proper meeting.  In the latest response, on 23 September, we have ‘rule change; we need individual signed letters by 50 members, plus we don’t know why you needed a meeting in the first place, and as far as we’re concerned, the matter is closed!" 

The AFICS/NY Governing Board has asked me to convey to you its reply to a message
received by the Board from Loraine Rickard-Martin on 17 September 2015.

We would first recall the background and the context in which you made your request for an
extraordinary meeting of the AFICS/NY membership. The day after the annual meeting of the
AFICS/NY Annual Assembly that was held on 4 June 2015, the Association’s Governing
Board received a request from you to convene soonest an extraordinary meeting of the
membership and citing Article 4, para. 3 of the AFICS/NY By-Laws. You followed it up on 12
June with a list that you stated was sent on behalf of 82 AFICS/NY members, some of whom
later indicated to AFICS/NY officers that they were not aware of having endorsed such a
request. Moreover, 8 are not AFICS/NY members. You insisted that the meeting should take
place before the 62nd session of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board, scheduled for
20-24 July 2015.

Notwithstanding serious reservations about the timing and form of your request, specifically
the absence of “written requests from at least fifty members of the Association” as required by
the By-Laws, and the lack of clarity regarding the intent of the requested meeting, the
Governing Board agreed in principle last June to prepare for an extraordinary meeting of the
AFICS/NY Assembly. It first designated a small group representing the AFICS/NY leadership
to meet with you in person to obtain a clearer idea of why you considered it necessary to call
for an extraordinary meeting so soon after the Annual Assembly. You initially said that it was
to discuss the governance of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund. In our face-to-face
meeting on 17 June, you said first that you still had unanswered questions and concerns
regarding investments and the revised Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was under
discussion at the time, as well as gaps in your knowledge and in the information and
explanations that had been provided at the AFICS/NY Annual Assembly by senior UN
officials. Later, you added that the intent of the meeting would be to “send a message” to the
Organization’s authorities.

It was explained to you both in person and in writing that the practical and logistical
difficulties of arranging a meeting to which AFICS/NY was obliged to invite the entire
membership (some 3,000 people) and at which several hundred could be expected to attend,
and of securing the cooperation of senior UN officials who had so recently addressed an
Assembly on the same issues to the same audience were considerable, but that we would see if
we could organize it within the limited lead time at our disposal. In the end, the administrative
arrangements could not be worked out because of the short notice, nor could the participation
be obtained of those whose presence was considered essential, their travel plans to the Pension
Board having already been set in most cases for the first week of July to attend meetings and
participate in working groups related to the later session of the Pension Board.

On the eve of the Pension Board session in July, a retiree appearing on your list circulated via
email to the members of that body the text of an extensive draft resolution dealing with, among
other things, the revised MoU. In an introductory letter to the Pension Board, he explained that
the draft resolution would have been tabled and adopted in an extraordinary meeting of the
AFICS/NY Assembly had such a meeting been held prior to the meeting of the Pension Board.
The Pension Board did not acknowledge the letter or take up the proposed resolution. It was
only at that point that the actual intention behind the request for an extraordinary meeting,
which was to introduce the above-mentioned draft resolution for presentation to the Pension
Board—not discussed or disclosed at any previous time to the AFICS/NY Governing Board—
became known.

On 10 July 2015, the Under-Secretary-General for Management had announced that more
work was needed “in sensitizing staff and retirees alike to the purpose of the proposed MOU
and to disavow any remaining misconceptions”. At the Pension Board his comments on the
issue, together with those of the Chief Executive Officer of the Pension Fund and the
Representative of the Secretary-General for the Investments of the Fund, included renewed
assurances as to the bifurcated structure and division of responsibilities in the Fund and its
conservative investment policies. It thus appeared that the proposed revised MoU had been put
on hold, perhaps permanently. With this and the subsequent discussion in the Pension Board, it
became apparent to the AFICS/NY Governing Board that the need for an extraordinary
meeting on these topics had been overtaken by events. In addition, AFICS/NY members were
being kept informed all along about outcomes in the Pension Board and other pension-related
matters by postings on the AFICS/NY website.

However, since the AFICS/NY Governing Board has now been reminded about the 5 June
request for an extraordinary meeting, it took up this matter at its 361st meeting, on 17
September 2015, and considered it against the backdrop of the chronology outlined above.
Fully bearing in mind the provisions of the Association’s By-Laws pertaining to extraordinary
meetings of the Assembly, the Governing Board was of the view that not only would any such
request have to meet all the requirements of the By-Laws, including individually signed
requests from those calling for it, the issues necessitating an extraordinary meeting to be
considered by the entire membership on an urgent basis at this stage would need to be clearly

In light of the above, the Board wishes to inform you that it finds no justification for an
extraordinary meeting of the membership and considers this matter now closed.

Linda Saputelli
President, AFICS/NY
On behalf of the AFICS/NY Governing Board
Cc: - AFICS/NY Governing Board

- List of members attached to 12 June email from Loraine Rickard-Martin

No comments:

Post a Comment