May 2013

 MEMBER NEWS

No Pension Increase

The pension trustees met in December 2012 to consider the state of the pension plan and amongst many other matters the granting of an ad hoc increase for retirees. Their decision was to not grant an increase for retirees in 2013. Although the Telecommunication Workers Pension Plan (TWPP) has a surplus of funds, the trustees decided that this surplus was not enough to fund an increase to retired members. Again, the targeted benefits of early retirement with 55 years of age and a minimum of 25 years of service and the annual updating of member’s current income for the purpose of pension benefit calculation were approved for active members.

The total contributions made by and on behalf of active members as a percentage of earnings of the plan represent about 15%. The cost of benefits for these members is estimated to be 19% of earnings.  There is a -4% shortfall in contributions compared to the actual cost of providing the future retirement benefit. The trustees approved the use of additional surplus funds of the pension plan to cover this shortfall. This was an additional benefit for active members approved by the pension trustees.

The BC Association of Retired Telecommunications Workers again asks, “When will retirees be recognized as having an equal right to share in the surpluses generated by our pension plan?” Our desire is that all TWPP members share fairly and equitably in the wealth that we have collectively created in this pension plan. We can hope that the pension trustees are listening. Maybe we will see an increase next year.

Retiree Pension Trustee Re-elected to TWPP Board of Directors

Sister Carol Nagy was re-elected in May 2012 to a six-year term as Pension Trustee. Within the limits of her fiduciary responsibility to the TWPP Sister Nagy has been the voice on the Board of Trustees to bring forward the concerns of the retired members of the TWPP. With costs always increasing, medical premiums being one example, TWPP retiree pensions are decreasing. The BCARTW and all TWPP retirees thank Sister Nagy for her previous years of service and wish her all the best in her continuing trustee position. Sister Nagy has just been appointed to the Concert Properties Board of Directors, effective May 2013, as a representative of the TWPP. The TWPP is a major shareholder in Concert Properties.

BCARTW Membership

The current membership of the BCARTW stands at just over 1300 members. Please encourage your fellow retirees to join the BCARTW and Local R55. There are over 7700 retirees at this time and there is strength in numbers.

TWU LOCAL R55

Update on Resolutions to May 2012 TWU Convention

At the May 2012 Convention constitutional language was brought to the floor to have a guaranteed retiree trustee position on the Board of Trustees of the Pension Plan. Unfortunately, the resolution was narrowly defeated. A resolution was also taken to Convention to have TWPP retirees recognized as a third targeted benefit, along with the targeted benefits for active members, early retirement at 55 and 25 and annual update to current wages for pension benefits. This resolution was also defeated.

May 2013 TWU-STT Convention

There were no resolutions sent to the 2013 TWU-STT Convention from the retiree Local R55.

TWU-STT Merger with United Steelworkers (USW)

You have probably heard something about a merger of the Telecommunications Workers Union (TWU-STT) and The United Steelworkers (USW). Our union, TWU-STT, went to the membership to get approval to enter into merger negotiations with the USW. The National Executive Council felt it would be prudent to get a 66 2/3 mandate from the members because this was such an important step for the union to take. Many meetings were held across the country to explain the wisdom of merging with the larger organization.  Retiree members did not get a vote in this referendum as retirees are excluded from voting on referendum ballots under the TWU-STT Constitution. The active membership voting results were: 3471 votes cast, 290 votes were spoiled, 1110 voted NO and 2071 voted YES. This represents an affirmative vote of 65%. However, it was still not high enough to get past the 66 2/3% threshold set by the National Executive Council. A report to the 2013 TWU-STT Convention again advised the delegates to consider the USW as a merger partner. The convention approved, by 63.8%, a resolution to enter into merger negotiations with USW.  Your retiree delegates from Local R55 did not vote on the resolution because retirees do not have a vote on the final decision. The TWU-STT will be negotiating a tentative merger agreement with USW which will come back to the active members of the union to approve.

Retiree representatives from Local R55 are hopeful that the union will invite retiree input to the merger committee that will ultimately negotiate with USW. The continuing democratic election of pension trustees is a priority for retirees in these merger negotiations. USW has a retiree organization, Steelworkers Organization for Active Retirees (SOAR), and we are not sure how Local R55 will fit in the picture. That is one of the areas of discussion in which we would like to participate.

Thank you to Brother George Doubt

George Doubt, National President of the TWU-STT and TWPP Pension Trustee, announced that he would be retiring shortly after the 2013 Convention and therefore would not be seeking re-election as president. The BCARTW membership and all retirees would like to take this opportunity to thank Brother Doubt for his years of service as TWPP Trustee. Under George’s stewardship, the TWPP retirees were granted two increases: one in 2007 and one in 2010. These were the only increases for retirees since 1997 when there was a small increase, and then back to 1993. Thank you, George, and we hope to see you join the BCARTW and Local R55.

New TWU-STT President and new TWPP Trustee

The new TWU-STT President is Brother Lee Riggs. Lee has been a Business Agent for many years in the Okanagan as well as a TWPP Trustee. He automatically retains his pension trustee position as president of the union. This will necessitate a new Business Agent being assigned to Local R55.

Because of the promotion of President Riggs, a vacancy for a remainder of his existing pension trustee position was filled by election of Brother Colin Brehault. Colin has been a Burnaby Business Agent. Colin was successful in his bid for pension trustee in part due to his degree in economics and a long-standing interest in the TWPP. We wish all the union officers the very best of luck and success in the future.

Membership in Local R55

The current membership of Local R55 is 915 members. This means that we have reached the maximum number of delegates (6) we are permitted to have attend the TWU-STT Convention. We are encouraging all members of the BCARTW to also join Local R55. This does not cost any additional money for dues. The BCARTW pays the $1.00 initiation fee and the $1.00 per year dues to the TWU-STT on your behalf. You will find an application on our website www.bcartw.ca or you can call toll free 1-888-898-5755 to have one sent to you.

Johnson Insurance

The BCARTW has partnered with Johnson Insurance to provide reduced travel insurance costs through Medoc using your BCARTW membership number. In addition, for any quote that one of our members request from Johnson Inc. regarding home insurance the BCARTW receives $10.00 whether you take the home insurance or not. There is an email blast ad sent out twice a year. If you prefer not to receive these emails, please let us know and your email address will be deleted from the list. You can access the Johnson Inc. website, www.johnson.ca/bcartw to apply or call 1-866-606-3362.

Concession and TELUS Services Discount (TSD)

A number of retirees are still on the previous BC Tel phone rate concession, while some are now on the TELUS TSD. This information is for TWU members who retired before summer of 2005. These members may be entitled to receive 40% discount on all their TELUS services and not just the previous 15% “K” concession.

You can review your services by calling Customer Service at 310-2255. In order to find out if you are eligible for the TSD you then have to call TELUS Benefits at 1-866-899-8999. If you take the TSD option, you have to give up your “K” concession. It is up to each person to check this out and see if it benefits you.

Methods of Communication

If you are receiving information via Royal Mail and have an email address, please advise the Secretary. It is very important that we find ways to reduce costs and email is one of the easiest. If you do not have an email address of your own, perhaps a relative or friend would be prepared to accept emails from the BCARTW on your behalf.

The Directors of the BCARTW and the Executive of TWU-STT Local R55 will continue working on behalf of the retirees. Thank you for your membership and participation.

 Rod Peters
President, BCARTW and TWU-STT Local R55

BC Association of Retired Telecommunication Workers