Category Archives: R55

Update on the status of Unit R55

To all Members of the (former) Unit R55 of USW Local 1944

The status of retirees in USW Local 1944 and a Report on the USW Local 1944 Convention, held in Burnaby, on March 20 to March 22, 2018

On March 16th, 2018 the President of the USW international, Leo Gerard imposed a new set of bylaws, (formerly the TWU Constitution) on USW Local 1944. These new bylaws decertified Unit R55. These new bylaws extinguished the rights of Retirees.

On March 17, the Executive of R55 asked the International President of the USW if retired members were still eligible to run for the position of Pension Trustee?  Were the delegates of Unit R55 still eligible to vote for Pension Trustee. These are rights that the retirees have had for the last 10 years.

On March 18th the President of the USW responded in writing that since retirees and R55 members were no longer members in good standing of the USW they could not vote for or stand for the position of Pension Trustee.

Subsequently on March 20th at the convention, the President of USW local 1944, Lee Riggs ruled that Carol Nagy, the current retiree trustee on the pension board is not eligible to run for her position on the board.  On March 22 the President ruled the nomination of two retirees for the position of Pension Trustee was out of order because they were no longer members in good standing, due to the fact that retirees have no status in the USW.

Background to these decisions     

When the merger talks with the USW began, local R55 was in contact with the Executive of the TWU to express the member’s concern about the election of TWPP Trustees. In 2013, the President of the TWU, Lee Riggs gave his written commitment that he would strike a committee comprised of R55 executive members, TWU Executive Members, the Constitution Committee and Pension Trustees to ensure that the Retirees would maintain their voice and responsibility in the selection of Trustees.

No committee was ever struck by the President despite repeated requests in writing and at convention.

In 2015, the merger agreement was signed between the TWU and the USW.  One of the statements in that agreement was “The merger of the TWU and the USW does not alter the structure, governance or funding of the TWPP.”

In January 2018 a committee was struck to deal with the integration of the TWU constitution or bylaws and the USW local Amalgamated Bylaws.  Recommendations were made to the International on what changes would be made.  While it was recommended to abolish R55, two members of the committee did raise the issue of the commitment made to the retirees.  The President of USW 1944 Lee Riggs did attend a meeting with the International after these committee meetings to discuss these changes.  We now know that nothing was done to live up to the terms of the merger agreement or the commitment made by the president on the subject of protecting the rights of retirees and UNIT R55 members

At the March 20th Convention (LADM), the delegates of R55 were not allowed to be seated, per the new Bylaws and attended as visitors. We were denied the right to have voice on our status.  At the end of Convention day, the president of R55 Rick Fleming and an R55 Delegate Peter Massy met with USW officials in an attempt to resolve this issue.  The purpose of the meeting was to find a way to have retired member on the TWPP Board and give the retirees a vote on who that Trustee would be.

We are waiting for an answer. We will update you when we have one and what actions could be taken in the event that there is no satisfactory resolution of this matter.

In Solidarity

The Executive of (former) UNIT R55

President  Rick Fleming
Vice President Jeanette Lacey
Secretary Jennifer Meloche

Letter to all Unit R55 Members

During the merger negotiations between the TWU and the USW there was concern that retirees’ representatives, Unit R55 delegates, would lose the right to vote for TWPP Pension Trustees.

The President of the TWU, Bro. Lee Riggs, issued a letter of commitment to the Executive of Unit R55 and the BCARTW that he would ensure the rights of retirees would be protected.

That promise has been broken. A copy of that letter is attached.

The USW, who consider themselves a democratic union, arbitrarily imposed new bylaws on Local 1944 without a vote from the membership. These new Bylaws have revoked the Charter of Unit R55. This means that our delegates cannot vote for Pension Trustees.

For the last number of years, the Executive of Unit R55 has been working to resolve this issue with no response from the Executive of TWU – USW Local 1944.

The next Pension Trustee election is at the Local Unit Delegated Meeting (LUDM) (previously TWU Convention) beginning March 20, 2018. Two days before this LUDM the Executive of Unit R55 was advised that the Unit R55 Charter was revoked.

We have drafted a letter of appeal to the USW International President Leo Gerard and the Executive members of the USW and TWU Local 1944. A copy of that letter is attached.

We are asking retired members, if concerned, and if able, to come to the opening of the LUDM on Tuesday morning March 20th in a show of support for Unit R55.

The LUDM is being held at the HILTON METROTOWN, 6083 McKay Ave. in Burnaby. The LUDM begins at 8 a.m., so it would be best to be there at 7:30 am.

This is very short notice, so if you are unable to attend it is understandable.

In Solidarity,
Unit R55 Executive

View as PDF Document

Local R55 Executive Meets with the TWU Affiliation Committee

On January 21, 2013, members of the Local R55 executive met with TWU President George Doubt and Vice-President Betty Carrasco. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the proposed TWU merger with the United Steelworkers.  Below you will find our notes from that meeting.

Note: Retirees do not get a vote at any stage of the merger process.

The merger process is a three-step process:

  1. Step 1 asks the membership to authorize the TWU National Executive Council to enter into merger negotiations with the USW.
  2. If step 1 receives a 662/3% positive vote, the TWU and the USW will enter into step 2 – merger negotiations.
  3. If step 2 results in a tentative merger agreement, the process would move to step 3 – the decision phase. The membership will be asked to vote on the agreement and, if this results in a 662/3% positive vote, the merger would be authorized. The merger would take place based on the terms of the merger agreement.

Brother Doubt stated that the USW is open to negotiating items from the TWU Local R55.

The USW has national locals across the Canadian Districts.

The primary concern for retirees in BC and for many active BC TWU members is the security of their pension plan. Pension plans like the TWPP, are independent trusts, which are established and protected by trust agreements for the sole benefit of the plan members.

Prior to the meeting, the Local had forwarded several questions that encapsulated many of the issues and concerns we had heard from our retired members. The following are the question put to the Affiliation Committee and the Committee’s responses.

  1. Will the Trustees of the TWPP continue to be elected by the members of the TWPP?
  • If YES, what will the process be, and who will be able to vote?
  • If NO, how will the Trustees be selected?

There are three things the TWU does that affect the Telecommunication Workers Pension Plan (TWPP):

      • bargains contributions to the pension plan;
      • appoints four trustees to the board of trustees;
      • approves changes to the trust documents

Four of the eight TWPP trustees are appointed by the TWU. The TWU Constitution directs that two of the four TWU appointed trustees shall be the TWU president and the Secretary-Treasurer.

The remaining two trustees are elected at the TWU national convention from members of the Plan. The only people eligible to vote in these elections are delegates who represent members of the TWPP.

All trustees must be members of the TWPP.

During the merger negotiations, it is a priority that the union trustees continue to be elected from the members of the TWPP, by members of the TWPP. It is not clear yet how the vote will take place. It may be at a Canadian conference, at a district conference, or at some other conference. Brother Doubt would like input about how this is set in the new structure (who runs for these positions, how and where they are elected, etc.).­­­­­­­­­­­

Note: It is the position of Local R55 that any member of the TWPP in good standing with the TWU is eligible to run for election as a pension trustee. Further, the Local believes that the most democratic way of electing pension trustees would by referendum vote of the members of the TWPP who are also members in good standing of the TWU or who retired as members in good standing. This is the principle known as one member, one vote.

  1. Is the Affiliation Committee committed to maintaining the democratic process in the hands of TWPP members? That is, is the successor union prepared to facilitate and fund the election of the TWU appointed TWPP Trustees?

Yes and the process will be negotiated during the merger/affiliation process Elections could possibly be set at the USW Canadian Conference, district, or other conference.  The affiliation Committee is open to suggestions on the process.

  1. Since collective bargaining is one of the main arena’s where the outcome may affect the TWPP, how would the bargaining team be constituted following a merger and how will the bargaining package be developed?

Leo Gerard, USW International President (and a Canadian steelworker), attended a recent TWU Executive Council meeting. When a similar question was put to him, he stated that collective bargaining would remain in the hands of the Bargaining Unit. While the USW Constitution says that the International President authorizes strike action, he has no involvement in local bargaining or decision making unless requested by the local.

  1. The Executive of Local R55 believes that it has a role to play should the membership give the Executive Council approval to begin merger talks. Just as the Affiliation Committee will be consulting with committees, trustees, and others throughout the process, we ask that they also consult with retirees through Local R55.

Brother Doubt stated that he intends to consult with the Local. How this will happen is to be discussed.

  1. Since the Board of Directors of Concert Properties lists two directors from the TWU, how would these directors be selected should the TWU merge with the USW?

All directors on the Board of Concert Properties are elected at the Concert Properties annual general meeting. The TWPP has four directors on the Board of Concert Properties. These four directors are nominated by the TWPP and include two from the company and two from the Union. There will be no change in this process as a result of the merger referendum.

  1. Have the Company appointed TWPP Trustees expressed an opinion about the proposed merger? Have they expressed any opinions that there may need to be amendments to the Plan Documents as a result of the merger?

Following the December 2012 Trustee Meeting, Brother Doubt, as TWU President, informed the trustees that a merger was in progress. He went on to say that, in his opinion, there was no need for the Trustees to take any action. All the trustees agreed. They also agreed that the merger was none of the Board’s business.

  1. Does the USW constitution allow for retiree locals similar to the way we have constituted retiree local(s) in the TWU? What role would Local R55 play in a newly merged union? That is:
  • Will Local R55 exist?
  • Will the Local continue to send delegates to a convention?
  • Will the delegates enjoy the same speaking and voting privileges they currently have?

Yes, R55 will still exist but may be negotiated with a different name. For example, it may be called “unit” instead of “local” but the structure would be the same.

Convention status for R55 will be decided during the merger talks. The desire is to keep as much of the current privileges as possible.

TWU Retirees – BCARTW and Local R55 Update – July 2012

July 2012


Pension Increase

Despite a strong case advanced by members of local R55 Executive on behalf of the retirees, the Pension Trustees met in December 2011 and determined that there would not be a pension increase in 2012. Although the TWPP has a surplus of funds, the trustees decided that this surplus was not enough to fund an increase to retired members. At the same time, the trustees approved an update for active members to January 1, 2011. It is the intent of the trustees to do an annual review of the financial position of the plan with the first priority for any surplus funds to be updates for active members and then approval of early retirements at age 55 with 25 years of credited service. The trustees will consider an increase for retirees once the above two benefits for active members are approved and if they are satisfied that there are sufficient surplus funds remaining.


TWU Local R55

Local R55 gives the retirees a legal vehicle to put forward resolutions that affect the TWPP to the TWU Convention. The delegates are able to run for the position of pension trustee, to vote on issues affecting retirees, to vote in elections for pension trustee, and to vote for the positions of President and Secretary-Treasurer of the TWU, since those positions are ex officio pension trustees. Since the formation of the B.C. Association of Retired Telephone Workers (BCARTW), it has been successful in promoting changes to the TWU Constitution that will work in the best interests of both active and retired members of the TWPP. Once a resolution is approved at the Convention, the entire TWU membership is entitled to vote on the new Constitution language. An example of a change that the retirees were responsible in having brought up at the Convention involves the election of Pension Trustees. The President and Secretary-Treasurer positions of the TWU were trustees of the pension plan by virtue of their office. A Constitutional change was made to ensure that should one or both of the successful candidates to these positions not be members of the TWPP, the pension trustee position(s) would be open to nominations from the floor of Convention. The result is that only TWPP members are entitled to be elected as pension trustees.


Membership in Local R55

At this time there are over 600 members of TWU local R55. This is about half of the BCARTW membership. This entitles local R55 to seat four delegates at the TWU Convention. We need 700 members in order to have five delegates. The maximum number of delegates that the retirees’ local is permitted at the convention is six and that would require 900+ members. We are encouraging all members of the BCARTW to also join the TWU retirees’ local. This will not cost you any additional money for dues; the BCARTW pays the $1.00 initiation fee and the $1.00 per year dues to the TWU on your behalf. You will find an application form on our website, or you can call toll free 1-888-898-5755.