PURPOSE: TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF RETIRED TELECOMMUNICATION WORKERS WHO ARE IN RECEIPT OF A PENSION FROM THE TELECOMMUNICATION WORKERS PENSION PLAN
There are 3 primary targets for the BCARTW
- A Fair Share of the Pension Surplus for Retirees
- Election of Pension Trustees – One Member One Vote
- A Guaranteed Retiree on the Pension Board
1. A Fair Share of the Pension Surplus for Retirees
Ad Hoc increases to the limit under the Income Tax Act, depending on the Funding Status of the Plan, eliminate additional limit imposed by Trustees
As per the TWPP Funding Policy, ad hoc increases for retirees are the tertiary objective of the Plan, after annual updates for active members, and a sufficient ‘cushion’ in the event of an adverse financial downturn. These increases may be approved by the Trustees – at their sole discretion – depending upon the funded position of the Plan. To be clear: the BCARTW and the retirees support the first and second objectives of the Plan. We want all Plan members to be able to retire with the benefits that we have enjoyed over the course of our retirement.
Increases for retirees are limited by the Income Tax Act to the increase in CPI (Consumer Price Index) year over year. For example – if the increase in CPI from August 1, 2020, to August 1, 2021, is 4%, that is all the Trustees are allowed to approve as an increase.
What we did not know is that the Trustee’s have established a limit in addition to the limit in the Income Tax Act. This Trustee limit is 25 percent of the increase in CPI. (If the increase in CPI is 4%, they will approve up to 1%. If the increase in CPI is too low to warrant an increase (eg – .01), the 25 percent is cumulative and can be approved later.) This limit was passed by the Trustees in 2007 and has apparently been implemented since then. They now consider it a ‘de facto policy’ because of past practice.
This ‘de facto policy’ is not included in the Funding Policy.
The BCARTW will be lobbying the Trustees to eliminate the arbitrary limit imposed by the Trustees in 2007 and approve increases subject to the Funding Status of the Plan and to the amount allowed by the Income Tax Act.
If we are not successful, then, in the interests of transparency, the BCARTW will be pursuing the Trustees to have this policy included in the Funding Policy. And we will be inquiring if there are any other rules, policies, de facto or otherwise, that have not been included in the Funding Policy.
2. Election of Pension Trustees – One Member, One Vote by Referendum Ballot of all Plan Members
Currently, the TWPP Trustees are elected as follows:
- The President and Secretary-Treasurer of USW Local 1944 are automatic Trustees and are elected by referendum ballot of the entire membership of the Local 1944, even those who are not members of our Pension Plan.
- One Trustee was elected at the USW LUDM (Convention) in 2021.
- One Trustee will be elected at the USW LUDM in 2024.
In 2018, when the USW imposed their bylaws on Local 1944 (formerly TWU), the retirees were no longer considered members in good standing of the Union. This meant that retirees could no longer run for Pension Trustee according to the bylaw governing the election.
The BCARTW lobbied all levels of USW leadership, up to and including the National President, and in 2020 were advised that the bylaws were being altered to allow retirees to run for Trustee.
We could see that there were problems with the election process that were not addressed at that time, but the BCARTW was prepared to pursue solutions with the USW Local leadership over time.
In December 2021, at the LUDM, there was an election for Pension Trustee. The problems with the existing process became obvious. The playing field is not level. Active members and LUR’s (Local Union Reps) have access to information, and to the delegates, that retirees do not have.
There were 27 delegates eligible to vote for Trustee. These 27 delegates were elected by, and represent, roughly 3,000 active members. There are approximately 15,000 participants in the Pension Plan. This means there are roughly 12,000 participants of the Plan who are not represented and have no vote for the Trustees responsible for their livelihood.
To be a truly democratic election all members would have the right to run for election, and to vote in the election. A referendum ballot of all members, as is done for the principal officers of the Union, would be the avenue to achieve this.
The BCARTW will be pursuing all available processes to ensure a one member, one vote election for the two Pension Trustee positions.
3. A Guaranteed Retiree on the Board of Trustees
The BCARTW will continue to lobby the USW but this may only be possible through the Federal Government passing legislation that guarantees retirees positions on Pension Boards.