No Pension Increase for 2015

There will be no pension increase again in 2015.  The TWPP Trustees meet in December of each year.  Among other things, they review the latest information on the performance of the Pension Fund.  They determine whether or not there is enough surplus funding to approve an update for active members and an ad hoc increase for retirees.  The update for active members was approved.  An ad hoc increase for retirees was not approved.  There is now a written TWPP Funding Policy, and this policy requires that the Pension Fund be 105% funded in order to sustain an ad hoc increase for retirees.  The current funding level is 102%.  To read the complete funding policy, the 2014 Valuation Report and for other TWPP information go to www.twplans.com.

History of Pension Increases

The BCARTW has posted the history of pension increases on the BCARTW website. (find it on the ‘recent posts’ sidebar) From 1992 to 2015 retirees have received three (3) increases, 1997 – 3% based on CPI (Consumer Price Index), 2007 – 4% maximum based on CPI and depending on retirement date and 2010 – 1.25% depending on retirement date.  Active members should also review this history.  This will prepare them for the probability that the pension amount they retire with will be the pension amount they will receive for their retirement future.  Active members and recent retirees will remember the five years between 2000 and 2005.   The TWU was in bargaining and the result was that there were no wage increases for that period.  Retirees have now not had an increase for five years and the likelihood for future increases is small.

TWU-USW Merger

The active members of the TWU voted in favour of a merger with the Steelworkers.  This merger went into effect January 1, 2015.  The TWU will now be identified as the Telecommunications Workers Union (TWU), United Steelworkers Local Union 1944.  Retirees Local R55 becomes Unit R55.  There are many questions that can not be answered yet.  The Union is working through the process.

The important question for retirees is  – How does this affect the Penson Plan?  The two issues that impact retirees are:

  1.  the funds of the TWPP
  2.  the election of pension trustees

The following wording is taken directly from the Merger Agreement between the TWU and USW:

The USW  will have no current or future involvement in the governance of the TWPP Pension Plan, has no current funding obligations with respect to that plan and will have no such obligation at any future time.  To be clear, the USW will have no access or entitlement to any of the funds of the TWPP including but not limited to any surplus.  The merger of the TWU and the USW does not alter the structure, governance or funding of the TWPP.  

In order to prepare for the arrival of the one member – one vote system for all executive positions in the new National Local Union in the spring of 2018, the TWU Convention (the highest governing body) will be responsible to determine changes to the election of the TWPP Trustees, if any.  The election of TWPP Trustees will continue to be governed by the existing language of the TWU Constitution (which will become the TWU National Local Union’s By-Laws) and Policies unless amended by the TWU convention.  The USW agrees that this is an internal TWU National Local Union issue and they will not take a position on these matters.

The merger agreement as it currently stands, does alter the election of pension trustees in future.  The present method of electing pension trustees will change effective 2018 with the introduction of one member – one vote referendum balloting for the position of President and Secretary-Treasure of the Local Union.  These two positions are automatic pension trustee positions and R55 delegates to the Local Annual Delegated Meeting (Convention) currently have a vote in these elections.

However, retirees are not entitled to vote in referendum ballots.  If there is no change made to the TWU National Local Union’s By-Laws, (TWU Constitution) the R55 delegates will lose the right to vote on these two trustee positions at the Local Annual Delegated Meeting in 2018 and for the future.  In addition, the one member – one vote referendum balloting for President and Secretary-Treasurer will give all active members of the TWU nationally a vote on the election of two of the TWPP trustees.  The  BCARTW and Unit R55 will continue to propose By-Law changes in order to retain our right to vote on these two trustee positions and to limit voting on TWPP trustees to TWPP members.

TWU – Telus Collective Agreement Expiry

The TWU-Telus Collective Agreement expires in 2015.  There will be a Bargaining Convention in September 2015 to determine the Union bargaining package.  At the last round of bargaining Telus brought a proposal to stop contributions to the Pension Plan.  They were not successful, but there may be new proposals at this round.  In the 2005 Collective Agreement, Telus contributions, were cut from 10.75% of payroll to 10%, and Telus took over the Long Term Disability.  Changes can be made at the bargaining table and retirees do not have a vote on the Collective Agreement.  It is definitely in the interests of retirees to be aware of what is taking place in bargaining.

Purpose of the BCARTW

The  BCARTW was formed by a group of retired members of the TWPP in 2000 to give a voice to members of Telecommunications Workers Pension Plan.  The BCARTW has been lobbying for election of pension trustees, and pension increases since that time.  The purpose has not changed.  The BCARTW is the only retiree organization solely focused on the TWPP and will continue to work on behalf of the members of the TWPP.

BCARTW and Unit R55 Membership Application Forms

The TWU sends out a retirement package to new retirees.  Until recently this package has contained a copy of the BCARTW application form and the Unit R55 application form.  Included in the R55 application form was a reference to the BCARTW.  The President of the TWU has made a decision to no longer include the BCARTW application form in the retirement package, and has removed all reference to the BCARTW from the R55 application form.  The TWU will be promoting SOAR as the retirement organization for TWU members.

The removal of all references to BCARTW from the retirement package will have a direct impact on the ability of the BCARTW to increase its membership.  This will impact the ability of the BCARTW to provide funding for the R55 delegates to attend future Local Annual Delegated Meetings (Conventions) and to lobby on behalf of TWPP members.  The only avenue left for retirees to hear about the BCARTW will be through word of mouth.  If you know anyone that will be retiring in the future, please advise them of the BCARTW.

Other Retiree Organizations

The Steelworkers retiree association is the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR).  In addition to promoting Steelworkers policies, the organization works politically and legislatively to promote the issues that affect its members and all older and retired persons.  There are other organizations that also work politically on behalf of retirees, BC Forum, through the BC Federation of Labour, and COSCO (Council of Senior Citizens Organizations).

Pet Insurance

Johnson Insurance now offers pet insurance.  For more information see the website  https:www1.johnson.ca/group-benefits

Dues Reminder

Dues for 2015-2016 are due and payable by May 1st 2015.  If you have already paid your dues please disregard this notice.

Board of Directors

Eric Korpan – President
Rod Peters – Vice President
Dianne Miller – Treasurer
Jennifer Meloche – Secretary

Jack Sambrooke
Bob Ashton
Beverly Bowden
Birgit Haggstrom
Don Stang
Rick Fleming

Disclaimer: This website is the property of the BCARTW, a registered Society in the Province of British Columbia.  This website does not necessarily express the views or opinions of the Telecommunications Workers Union – United Steelworkers Local Union 1944.