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News Release

U.S. Labor Department Sues California Health Benefit Fund to Recover $1.2 Million for Unpaid Health Claims

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

San Francisco, California - The U.S. Department of Labor has sued Paramount, California-based International Union of Public and Industrial Workers (IUPIW) Canadian Benefit Fund and its trustees for more than $1.2 million to cover unpaid health care claims due more than 2,000 workers and their families nationwide.

"These workers are burdened with unpaid health claims because of mismanagement of their health plan, and we are working to prevent those responsible from ever serving as plan fiduciaries again," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "We are also pursuing recovery of $1.2 million to cover the unpaid health claims of these workers and their families."

The lawsuit, filed in the Atlanta Division of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, alleges the trustees of IUPIW, which purported to be a union-sponsored benefit plan, imprudently managed the fund. Marketed nationwide, the fund covers employees in two affiliated unions, the International Union of Petroleum and Industrial Workers (also IUPIW) and the International Union of Industrial and Independent Workers (IUIIW).

In addition to restitution, the suit seeks to bar officials associated with the health care fund from service as fiduciaries to plans covered by federal benefits law. The Labor Department also asks the court to appoint an independent fiduciary to take over and manage the plan. Named in the suit are plan trustees William Hope of La Habra, California; Gary Couch of Arlington, Texas; Roger "Tim" Gue of San Jacinto, California; and Robby Larkin of Fort Mohave, Arizona; Pamela Barlow of Fullerton, California, secretary-treasurer of the IUPIW, is also named in the suit. Barlow is the daughter of George Beltz of Gainsville, Missouri, president of both IUPIW unions and sister of Geoffrey "Joe" Beltz, of Bedford, Texas, president of the IUIIW.

The Labor Department obtained a consent judgment in a related case, Chao v. IUIIW, ordering a $1 million payment to a now-insolvent fund sponsored by the IUIIW.

The Los Angeles regional office of the department's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) investigated the case. Employers and workers can reach the Los Angeles Regional Office at 626.229.1000, or EBSA toll-free at 1.866.444.EBSA (3272), for help with problems relating to private-sector retirement and health plans. Tips on purchasing health benefits may be found at EBSA's Web site at

(Chao v. International Union of Public and Industrial Workers Canadian Benefit Fund)
Civil Action No. 1 05-CV 3053

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Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employee Benefits Security Administration
December 13, 2005
Release Number