LOWELL FLANDERS’ RESPONSE TO JOHN DIETZ
9 August 2018
Dear John, thanks for this communication, which I will share with the many staff members and retirees that belong to the Facebook group, “Former and Current UN Staff.” When I ran for a position on the AFICS Board, I promised those who voted for me to be as transparent and open about the issues being discussed as I possibly could. One of my motivations in starting the Facebook page was to throw as much light as possible on Pension issues that are affecting both staff currently serving and those who are retired, since I felt and still feel that the information flowing to our colleagues from both AFICS and FAFICS was slow, out of date and not at all transparent. You will recall this particularly came up when the current, but absentee CEO of the Fund tried his power grab to bring the financial investments under his control. Those of us outside the institutional set-up fought hard against this scheme even though the CEO was backed repeatedly by some in the FAFICS leadership who even today seemed to be confused about where their loyalties lie. It is to be noted that the discussion I posted contains no names. It is a general account about the issues discussed. You say this information is confidential, but don’t say from whom it is confidential. I can imagine, and it does not surprise me, that a few members of the Board would like to keep this information confidential until it can be carefully sanitized for public consumption.
Frankly, I was shocked by the way you were treated at the FAFICS Council meeting by members of our own board who were present there, and who had specific instructions from our Board about supporting you. It doesn’t surprise me that these same people would like to distract attention from their bad faith to trumped up issues of confidentiality focused on me. Now this same source is putting around that you didn’t get elected because you lack “personal charisma.” But this is part and part and parcel of an ongoing pattern of confidential and personal dealings that in no way represents the interests of Fund participants. This is also an obvious attempt to distract from the findings of the OIOS report and the entirely irresponsible circular by FAFICS leadership called “Pension Fund Alert: Retiree Rights in Danger,” distributed once again under the auspices of the Pension Fund Secretariat. This circular can only cause consternation among the thousands of retirees who are not Members or FAFICS, or have no idea what FAFICS is. This Circular should be discussed by our Board because it is false and entirely misleading.
I also request that at our next meeting we revert to the issue of who represents us on the FAFICS Council because I don’t believe that has been satisfactorily resolved. To leave it as fait accompli, as someone suggested, would be for the Board to accept a gerrymandered deal for someone’s personal advantage. You are the logical person to represent us there given your years of experience with Pension Fund Issues.
POST ON FCUNS (FACEBOOK PAGE FOR FORMER AND CURRENT UN STAFF)
LOWELL FLANDERS REPORT ON AFICS/NY MEETING
8 August 2018
I attended my first meeting of the AFICS Board today as a new elected Board member. I don’t intend to provide a he said/she said account. Minutes of the meeting will be forthcoming.
As a newcomer, it was a highly instructive, and a spirited meeting given the issues at hand. We had a report from those who attended the recent FAFICS Council meeting and Joint Staff Pension Board in Rome in July. We had two people, plus the current AFICS President, representing NY at the FAFICS Council meeting, which preceded the Pension Board. Many of our NY Board members were dismayed because, they decided last year that our current President would not only represent the NY Board, but would be nominated the represent FAFICS on the Pension Board.
It seems he was completely frozen out of the FAFICS Board and that the former President of FAFICS, of which we have heard so much, would continue to represent NY in the Pension Board. A bit convoluted, but the end result is that the NY Board will continue to be represented in the Pension Board by the same individual who has proved problematic in the past.
I suggested that perhaps said individual should step aside and allow our NY President to serve, since that is what our Board had already decided. One person suggested the situation was a fait accompli (obviously the intent) about which the Board could do little since it was a decision of the FAFICS Board. Clearly, however, the NY Board should have a big role to play in who represents us at the Pension Board.
I had to make explicit my opposition to having the previous FAFICS President represent the NY Board on grounds related to the OIOS report. No specific action was taken so our NY Board President will have no direct intelligence or involvement regarding Pension Board issues. This is how so-called continuity is used to block change and entrench questionable practices.
There was a report on some of the issues before the Pension Board and a couple where the Participant Representatives (serving staff) and the FAFICS (retirees) split. One concerned the dual role played by the CEO, who serves as CEO of the Fund as well as Secretary to the Board. OIOS suggested those roles be split into separate functions because it represents a conflict of interest. Participant Representatives supported the OIOS proposal, whereas FAFICS did not.
There was also a split on how retirees should be represented on the Board, an issue, which has been under discussion in the Board previously. OIOS supported general elections among all retirees to select representatives to the Pension Board. This was opposed by FAFICS, which claims to be the sole representative of retirees, but was supported by Participant Representatives. I suggested there should be regular meetings between the AFICS Board and the participant representatives to try to keep open lines of communication.
The AFICS Board elected its new officers for the coming year, pretty much as last year. The next meeting of the Board will take place on 12 September. I will keep you updated on any developments.