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Pensions 3

Pension Funds, Unions, and Working Class Strategies - session 3:

Fiduciary Duty:

A legal shield for corporate capitalism?

Toronto — 25 October 2013.


View on YouTube website

A central feature of the debate about “pension fund activism” and so‐called “Socially Responsible Investment” (SRI) involves the various understandings of the legal concept of “fiduciary duty” as it applies to the pension trustees charged with administering funds and setting investment policies. Traditional pension and investment industry practitioners advance the argument that the duty to administer trust property in the interest of the beneficial owners can only be respected by pursuing traditional investment policies geared to maximizing the (risk‐adjusted) rate of return.

Taken together, this panel focuses on those situations where trade unions have the power to name trustees to pension trustee boards, and examine more closely what the expectations are of both nominating unions and the trustees themselves. Click here to view complete outline.

Moderated by Kevin Skerrett. Presentations by:

  • Johanna Weststar (University of Western Ontario) – presents the results of her research (with U of T's Prof. Anil Verma) into the perspectives, challenges, and frustrations of labour side pension trustees. “Token Presence or Substantive Participation?
  • Simon Archer and Murray Gold are labour side lawyers with the Toronto firm Koskie Minsky. They both describe the basic legal frameworks that apply to pension funds as “trust property,” and the fiduciary duties that pension trustees must respect. In so doing, they also respond to the widely known and debated tensions between these legal concepts and many trade union nominated trustees. The “The Six Principles.”

Sponsors: Centre for Social Justice, Global Labour Research Centre (York University), Canada Research Chair in Political Economy (York University) and Socialist Project.