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Laurentian University staff union to take LU administrators to court


One of Laurentian University's biggest unions is considering taking some members of the university's administration to court.

At issue is the way retirement funds were handled, said Laurentian University Staff Union (LUSU) president Tom Fenske.

"We're looking at the plan of arrangement and within the plan of arrangement, there is part of it that allows LUSU to bring court action on behalf of its members and retirees against certain directors and officers at Laurentian that misused our RHBP, our trust fund, the fund that was set for retirees as our retirement health benefits plan," said Fenske.

In September, many LU creditors will vote on the plan of arrangement, a key step in the university emerging from insolvency.

Fenske said the court action is about holding people accountable.

"The basic idea behind this action is that LUSU members like myself and most people that are retired paid into a fund every month," he said.

"We've spent millions in dollars since 1998 into that fund and Laurentian's directors and officers were supposed to hold that money in trust and instead they spent that money on other things."

Fenske said the basic goal would be to recover damages -- either from individuals or their insurance companies -- in hopes some of the lost money can be returned.

While not yet revealing the administrators who would be named in a legal action, he said what happened to members is outrageous.

"It's sacrilegious to touch retirees -- everyone knows that -- and that's happened here," said Fenske.

"There's got to be some accountability here. I think the biggest thing we're all waiting for is the auditor general's report."

LUSU said it is waiting for the final auditor general's report to get some answers. He said a founder of the union told him even if no money is recovered, it's important to uncover the truth.

"Even if we are successful and the amount is negligible, the ability to hold people accountable is at the forefront of this discussion," Fenske said.

"To take money that was supposed to go to the retirement health benefits plan is unacceptable and I think our members will see it that way."

They're meeting with membership next week to discuss the legal action, along with the plan of arrangement.

"This is the first step of anyone trying to hold them accountable and I certainly hope it's not the last step," he said.

"If I had my way we'd have a full government inquiry here. This should have never have happened and we're going to do our part to hold people accountable."

CTV News has reached out to Laurentian University for its reaction, but has not yet received a response.

Creditors vote on the plan of arrangement so the university can exit CCAA protection on Sept. 14. Top Stories

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