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Union asks for probe of deal for RTI chief



Published: Fri, October 22, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



The complaint involves the CEO's pension.

By CYNTHIA VINARSKY

VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER

WEATHERSFIELD -- The union representing 340 locked-out workers at RMI Titanium is asking federal regulators to investigate the company's parent, alleging violations of federal securities law.

The United Steelworkers of America sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday, contending RMI parent RTI International Metals failed to notify its shareholders about the cost of a retirement plan supplement for Timothy Rupert, its president and chief executive.

RTI failed to advise shareholders that Rupert would receive an additional $96,255 in pension benefits annually if he were to retire today under a change announced in the company's 2003 annual report, the union said.

The report stated only that the company had decided to include Rupert's previous service with USX Corp. when determining the amount of his pension payments.

Rupert joined RTI's corporate predecessor, RMI Titanium Inc., in Sept. 1991, but the union told the SEC that his previous service with USX added 23 years of benefits to his pension total.

USWA, in its letter to the SEC, argues that the company failed to disclose how many additional years and how much additional compensation Rupert will receive as a result of the change.

Reason for concern

The matter is a concern to the union, the letter states, because its RMI employee members are shareholders, having been awarded RTI stock as part of a 1995 collective bargaining agreement, and many hold RTI stock in their 401(k) plans.

Richard Leone, an RTI spokesman, declined to comment, saying he hadn't seen the union's complaint.

The union compared RTI's treatment of Rupert's compensation to General Electric's failure to adequately disclose the value of retirement benefits paid to its former chief executive Jack Welch. The SEC punished GE with a cease-and-desist order.

"RTI camouflaged this change and failed to attach a dollar figure to it," said USWA President Leo Gerard in a press release, "and the SEC should investigate whether it broke the law by doing so."

Members of USWA Locals 2155 and 2155-7 have been locked out of the Weathersfield titanium mill since Oct. 26 of last year when they rejected what the company called its final contract offer. Another vote on a revised company proposal was also rejected in August.

vinarsky@vindy.com




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