NEGOTIATIONS UPDATE SEPTEMBER 18, 2018

cupe1975Negotiations/Bargaining

September 18, 2018

 At the General Membership Meeting on September 18, 2018 CUPE 1975 members overwhelmingly voted in favour of directing their bargaining team to conduct a strike vote.  The details are as follows:

IMPORTANT BARGAINING UPDATE

After almost two years of bargaining, your Local 1975 bargaining committee has served written notice to the Employer and the Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety that the union and the University of Saskatchewan have reached an impasse in the current round of negotiations.

The main sticking point in negotiations is our pension plan. The University is refusing to talk pensions at the bargaining table, and is threatening to make unilateral cuts to your pension plan, which could drastically reduce your hard fought retirement benefits.

CUPE 1975 and the University of Saskatchewan have a long history of engaging in serious and good faith bargaining over our pension plan. We see no reason that this practice should stop.

It is imperative that we fight to strengthen the pension language in our collective agreement so we can continue to have a voice in changes to our pension plan.

This is why we are seeking a strong strike mandate from our membership.  We need to send a message to the Employer that we will fight for our right to have a say in our retirement security.

After decades of hard work and paying into the pension plan, our members deserve to know that they can count on their pension in retirement.

We will continue to do our best to reach a fair deal at the bargaining table. Now that we have filed for impasse this includes working through the conciliation process with a government appointed mediator and the Employer to try to reach a deal. As this process unfolds, it is important we show the Employer that we are united and ready to stand together for our pension plan.

A RALLY  will be held on September 27th  at 4:30 pm  in Rooms 143 and 146 Arts Bldg  and will feature Mark Hancock, CUPE National President, and Jerrett Clark, President of the CUPE Local at Carleton University who just successfully won a similar pension fight.  Location: 

 Following the rally on September 27th a strike vote will take place until 7:30 pm in rooms 143 & 146 of the Arts Building.   The strike vote will continue on September 28th in the Graduate Students’ Association Commons, located directly behind McLean Hall across from the Dental Clinic from the hours of 7:30 am to 5:30 pm. To learn more about our pension plan read the document “Frequently Asked Questions” which can be found by visiting our website at cupe1975.ca.

In solidarity, Your Bargaining Committee,

Craig Hannah, Bob Jones, Ryan Klassen, Natalie Laing, Jeff Theis, Ann Iwanchuk

 

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CUPE COMMUNIQUE’

Canadian Union of Public Employees   CUPE.CA

September 18, 2018 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Media Release: CUPE Local 1975 says “Paws off our pensions” to the U of S and files for impasse

(Saskatoon) After almost two years of bargaining, your Local 1975 bargaining committee has served written notice to the employer and the Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety that the union and the University of Saskatchewan have reached an impasse in the current round of negotiations.

The main sticking point in negotiations is the pension plan. The University is refusing to talk pensions at the bargaining table and is threatening to make unilateral cuts to the pension plan.

“CUPE 1975 and the University of Saskatchewan have a long history of engaging in serious and good faith bargaining over our pension plan. We see no reason that this practice should stop,” said Craig Hannah, president of CUPE Local 1975. “If the University has their way, workers will no longer have a voice when it comes to their retirement security.”

In 2015, the University filed a grievance over the union’s view that language in our collective agreement gave us the right to negotiate pensions. Despite the parties negotiating changes to the pension plan for 65 years, Arbitrator Hornung sided with the University and ruled that the current collective agreement on pension is not strong enough to protect against unilateral changes to the plan. Since the local is currently in collective bargaining, they are seeking to add language regarding their right to bargain pensions.

“The average benefit paid to members of the local enrolled in the pension plan is just $18,100 annually, but the knowledge that we have a pension we can count on is a major part of compensation and a major reason our members come to work every day,” said Hannah.  “Our members will not accept the University unilaterally telling them what their pension will or will not be.”

“After decades of hard work and paying into the pension plan, the dedicated people who make U of S work need to know that they can count on their pension in retirement,” said Hannah. “It is imperative that we fight to strengthen the pension language in our collective agreement, so we can continue to have a voice in changes to our pension plan.”

CUPE 1975 represents 1900 members who work at the University of Saskatchewan in a variety of non-academic positions.

Pension FAQ 2018 – Your pension questions answered!

cupe1975Bargaining, Negotiations/Bargaining, Pensions

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What kind of pension plan do we have?

You have a Defined Benefit (DB) pension plan. This type of pension plan promises you a set amount of annual pension throughout your retirement. The specific provisions and calculations are available in your member pension booklets. DB plans are the best type of pension for workers because they provide benefit security, since the pension is set by a legally-binding defined pension formula, rather than being left solely to the whims of the stock market. Only a DB plan can provide workers with real retirement security.

What does the University want?

While the University’s precise plan is still unclear, we know they want to abandon the Defined Benefit nature of your plan. They prefer a Defined Contribution or “Target” Benefit approach, both of which put plan risks entirely on the backs on plan members. Under these plans, your pension is not secure, cannot be known and will ultimately vary based on the ups and downs of the stock market. In short, the University wants to shift the risks associated with the pension plan entirely to plan members. If the plan falls into deficit again, the University would rather members “pay” for the deficit by reducing their benefits, rather than the University having to make any extra payments into the plan.

CUPE 1975 has and will continue to strongly reject the University’s approach. It would be a radical downgrade in the retirement security and the compensation of hard-working CUPE 1975 members.

 How is our DB pension plan doing?

The University claims the pension is in crisis and is unsustainable. We strongly disagree.

Your pension plan is on sound footing and is sustainable. Every year, a pension actuary evaluates the health of the plan – looking both at the value of the assets in the pension fund and the value of the pension promises made to date. The most recent actuarial report shows that the plan is now “fully funded” on the actuary’s best estimate (plan’s assets = plan’s liabilities). University pension contributions are projected to fall significantly (nearly $3 million/year) in the coming years.

Virtually all pension plans (including your plan) experienced deficits after the market crisis of 2008-09 (the worst crisis since the Great Depression). A deficit does not mean the plan is broken or is in “crisis.” The pension system is designed to bring funds back into balance over time. This is exactly what happened to your plan. The plan fell to a funding low of 86% after the crisis. It has since been balancing this deficit and has now returned to full funding. During the downturn, the University claimed the plan was permanently broken and unsustainable. The Union correctly argued that the downturn was temporary and no excuse to permanently abandon the plan.

The University has also significantly conservatized the actuarial basis of the plan in recent years. Put simply, they have instructed the plan actuary to base pension calculations on the fact that plan members are living longer, and that market return expectations are lower than they were in recent decades. These new assumptions have already been built into the actuarial valuations of the plan, and they will help minimize the risk of the plan under-performing vs. expectations in the years ahead.

In 2013, the provincial government also permanently exempted the employer from making “solvency” payments into the pension plan, which puts University pension costs on a much more stable footing going forward.

We should also not forget that the pension plan was in surplus for decades. During this time, the University happily used portions of our pension surplus to reduce it’s the contributions it was required to pay by law into to the plan (“partial contribution holiday”).

How much of our pension surplus did the University use for its own purposes?

From 1993-2009, the University took 17 years of partial contribution holidays (using pension surplus to pay for a portion of the University’s required contributions to the plan each year). These holidays total more than $36 million in 2018 dollars. Accounting for lost investment returns that could have been realized on these contributions – had they been made – would push a total figure even higher.

It is also worth highlighting the 2009 partial holiday. The year after the financial crisis (-16% return) and the year after the last indexation was delivered to retirees, the University used $2 million of plan surplus to cover a portion of its own contribution obligation.

These decisions were not only unwise. The Union believes at least one and likely more of these holidays were illegal and violated the plan text. We have filed a grievance on this issue which we put into abeyance in a good faith effort to settle a collective agreement regarding pension.

Did the University have to make extra contributions to the pension plan to help balance the deficit?

Yes. The University has been making “special payments” to the plan since 2010. These payments are projected to decline in the coming years.

What has CUPE done in response to the increase in pension costs?

CUPE has a long record of listening to the University’s concerns and engaging in honest and good faith bargaining about pension costs.

Member contribution rate increases were agreed to at the bargaining table and increased from below 5% to 8.5% between 2008-2011. Increasing the member contribution rate helped to lower the total amount the University was required to contribute to the plan.

In the 2013-2014 round of bargaining, CUPE 1975 again recognized that the employer’s pension costs had increased and made good faith proposals to mitigate a significant portion of these University costs. The Union tabled further member contribution rate increases and temporary reductions in future service pension benefits. This package would have seen union members bearing half of the University’s increased pension costs. These changes would have saved the University $2.5 million per year. The University rejected this proposal at the bargaining table and is now trying to attack our ability to even bargain changes to our plan.

Is our pension plan “gold plated”?

No! Your pension plan provides a modest benefit that is earned gradually through your years of service and your own financial contribution to the plan.

The average benefit paid by the plan is $18,100 annually.

The pension does not promise cost-of-living increases in retirement (“indexation”), as many other plans do. So when the cost of goods and services goes up each year in retirement, CUPE 1975 retirees do not know if their pension will increase to keep pace, or if it will increase at all. Pensioners have not seen an increase since 2008. Their pensions have since lost nearly 20% of their real value by not keeping pace with the rising cost of living. Most University pension plans in Canada offer better indexation provisions.

What kind of pension do other University workers in Canada have?

The vast majority of university sector workers continue to be members of DB plans.

Our counterparts at the University of Regina have a DB plan.

Some faculty members on campus are members of a DC plan, but this change was voluntary.

There is no reason that CUPE 1975 members should not have the industry standard pension plan that works fine at the vast majority of other Universities in the country.

What is CUPE doing for the workers in Canada who don’t have a pension at work?

CUPE strongly believes that all workers deserve a decent and secure retirement. This is why we played a major role in the labour movement’s recent campaign to expand the Canada Pension Plan. In 2016, this campaign scored an important victory as Canadian governments agreed to modestly increase CPP benefits for all workers in Canada. This was an important victory, but there is still room for improvement and CUPE will continue to fight for retirement security for all workers in Canada.

What about the arbitration award?

In 2015 the University filed a grievance over the Union’s view that language in our collective agreement gave us the right to negotiate pensions. By filing this grievance, the University demonstrated that it believes this is a right our members should not have. The university’s decision to file a grievance regarding its ability to unilaterally amend the plan is offensive and completely counter to the spirit of negotiation that has always been—and should continue to be—at this table.

Surprisingly, Arbitrator Hornung sided with the University and ruled that our current collective agreement on pension is not strong enough to protect against unilateral changes to the plan. Since we are in collective bargaining, we have to add language regarding our right to bargain pensions.

While Arbitrator Hornung has ruled that the University may have a legal right to unilaterally amend the plan, this does not make this justified or acceptable to Local 1975 members, particularly given our history of honestly trying to deal with pension issues in bargaining. Pension is a major part of compensation and a major reason our members come to work every day. Our members will not accept the University unilaterally telling them what their pension will or will not be. This would permanently damage labour relations on campus.

What has the Union proposed?

The Union has proposed language that would require that changes to the plan must be agreed to by the Union.

If the University agrees to this language, the Union is fully prepared to continue our negotiations about pension plan design from the previous round. We do not need to re-state our demonstrated record of acting seriously and in good faith on this issue.

Are we in this fight alone?

No! We have 650,000 members of CUPE National and the resources of the largest union in Canada standing behind us. Our union takes pension disputes very seriously. Our locals have won many important pension fights and emerged stronger and more united.

Note: Date for September General Membership Meeting moved to September 18th.

cupe1975Miscellaneous

CUPE 1975 MEMBERS

Please note that the General Membership meeting which was to be held

September 25, 2018 has been moved up one week to Tuesday September 18,2018

From 12:00 to 1:00 pm.  The meeting will take place in Room 1B11 Health Sciences Bldg.

We will go through the Agenda and also have  important update information in regards to Negotiations. 

Where is Room 1B11 Health Sciences Bldg? If you are on ground  floor of the HLTH Sciences bdlg, go one floor up. If coming off elevator go straight down the long hallway and at the end hang a left.  Room 1B11 will be on the left.

 

Pancake Breakfast Thursday September 6, 2018-Please see attached poster

cupe1975Uncategorized

2018 Pancake Breakfast Poster-Flyer (002)

Welcome Week
Free Pancake Breakfast
In The Bowl
7:30am to10:00 am
Everyone welcome!
*Gluten free pancakes will be available
SPONSORED BY UNIONS ON CAMPUS CUPE 1975 University Employees’ Union, USFA- Faculty Association,ASPA (Administrative and Supervisory Personnel Association)
UGPW (Public Service Alliance of Canada Local 40004), CUPE 3287 (The Sessional Lecturers), St. Thomas More Faculty Union

Saskatoon District Labour Council BBQ September 3, 2018

cupe1975Uncategorized

The SDLC with support from members for CUPE Local 1975 is proud to host the 20th annual
LABOUR DAY BBQ
Please join us as we celebrate the achievements of working people and recognize the contributions unions make to the well-being of our communities on
Monday, September 3, 2018
Victoria Park (by Riversdale Pool)
11:30 am to 1:30 pm
Food, entertainment, children’s activities, and lots of fun!

More information (open Link)

Labour Day BBQ Poster 2018

BBQ Volunteer Information

Labour Day BBQ – September 3, 2018

cupe1975Uncategorized

The Saskatoon District Labour Council with Support of CUPE 1975 members is proud to host the 20th annual  LABOUR DAY BBQ

Please join us as we celebrate the achievements of working people and recognize the contributions unions make to the well-being of our communities on
Monday, September 3, 2018
Victoria Park (by Riversdale Pool)

11:30 am to 1:30 pm
Food, entertainment, children’s activities, and lots of fun!

See attached for more information

Labour Day BBQ Poster 2018

BBQ Volunteer Information

 

RETIREE AND LONG SERVICE PHOTOS AVAILABLE

cupe1975Uncategorized

At the spring social you were given a little business card which listed the site where you could print off photos or look at the photos taken throughout the evening.

Just press this link:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1riaGNCbDUegXkoSKtRHrhZwRGclTdHo1

If the photos come up and are not in photo format just click the button on the top right hand corner that says name.  click it in the opposite direction the arrow points and you should have the photos download for you.

Hope you all enjoyed your evening at the Western Development Museum.

 

May 14th was the deadline for receiving Tickets for Retirement and Long Service Banquet

cupe1975Uncategorized

May 14th was the deadline to RSVP for those members who received invitation letters to attend this year’s function on June 1st.

We are a total sell out and were able to accommodate all those members who responded.  A reminder cocktails at 5:15 pm and supper 6:15 sharp.   Location:  Western Development Museum – Butler Byers Room

You would have had to RSVP with Evelyn in order to attend.

BARGAINING AND PENSION UPDATE

cupe1975Bargaining, Pensions

CUPE Local 1975

Bargaining and Pension Update

April 17, 2018

Your bargaining committee has been working on your behalf to achieve a collective agreement.  You have given us a strong mandate for no concession bargaining.  We have now concluded discussions about non-monetary items.  We are pleased to report that those discussions went well, and we have been able to make some positive changes to the Collective Agreement.

We just received the employers’ monetary proposal last month.  We have taken a great deal of time to go through the proposal, and unfortunately, it does not even come close to recognizing the significant contributions our members make to the University every day.  While this is early in the monetary discussions, there is much work to be done on the part of the University before we will be ready to bring you a package that is worth voting on.

We have six bargaining dates scheduled between now and the end of June.

Most concerning is the vicious attack on our pension plan.  As you know, the employer filed a grievance against the union, stating they believed they could make unilateral changes to our pension plan without negotiating with the union.  In December, we received the arbitration award which did not go in our favour.  Even though the employer was successful at arbitration, it is important to remember their messaging during this process.  We were assured that whatever the outcome of the arbitration, the employer would work with the union to try to find a satisfactory resolution.

That has now changed!  We have been informed by the employer that they will be making changes to the pension plan, and they will not be seeking the union’s input.  While we are free to present proposals at the bargaining table, their committee does not have any authority to discuss pensions.  Despite that messaging, we are working with CUPE National’s pension experts to table a pension proposal that will protect our members’ interests and be satisfactory to the employer.  If the University cares about having a positive working relationship, they will consider our proposals.  Our pension plan is NOT in a crisis.  As we have reported to you at our pension update meetings, your pension is SUSTAINABLE – and it must be defended.

It is important to remember that a pension plan is deferred income.  You have a right to have that deferred income which was negotiated for you, in place for you when you need it.

Your bargaining committee is prepared to fight for your rights!  But we need your help!

 What can you do?

*Please update your personal email address by going to CUPE’s website at www.cupe1975.ca  Instructions are listed on the right hand corner. Please do not input your USASK email.  We cannot, and should not rely on the employer’s email system to communicate with you.

*Attend your monthly membership meetings (4th Tuesday of every month at noon). Dates and times listed on CUPE 1975’s website.

Your Bargaining Committee: Craig Hannah, Bob Jones, Ryan Klassen, Natalie Laing, Jeff Theis, Ann Iwanchuk