Pension fund settlement finalized between U.P. company and employees

A federal court supervised settlement calling for more than $450,000 in payments to cover lost employee retirement contributions at a Houghton-based construction company has been finalized.

Rich Simons and Darrin Burcar, who worked for Moyle Construction, sued the company because they felt Moyle was withholding pension funds from them.

Burcar said he first became suspicious a few years ago after looking at his pay stub.

“And it said I accumulated over $20,000.  When I called up the retirement service, they said you have no balance in there.  So I talked to a few other employees and found out I wasn’t the only one,” he said.

Burcar went on to say that they initially didn’t know what to do, so they asked for help.

“So we got a few guys together and we had a meeting, and we asked the Building Trades to give us a hand with this because we couldn’t afford lawyers so they helped us out,” he said.

Tom Helminen, president of Moyle Construction, said the pension accounts were over 80% funded and they fell behind because of the tough economic climate.

“It’s happened to many companies, many municipalities and organizations.  Union pension funds are behind.  And it’s just an effect of the downturn in the economy,” Helminen said, adding since the court approved the settlement agreement back in January, Moyle has made several deposits into the pension fund.

“We can again contribute, put the funds in and we have a plan that has been approved by the court to fully fund the pension fund.  And we are eager to get that done,” he said.

He said the company is on track to be fully funded in a few months.

The lawsuit stipulates that all payments must be made by September 30.