Greetings Sisters and Brothers,
Retirees across the country are mobilizing to press for an early resolve to the indexing issue.
At staff meetings and Division Conventions, retirees are leafleting members to promote indexation for our plan. Our leaflet seems to be going over well, and members have been very supportive. Retirees continue to be visible at CUPE events, handing out leaflets and buttons “Ten Years is Too Long to Wait”.
Meeting with National Officers
Retirees’ activism in the regions no doubt encouraged the Officers to reply to our request for a meeting. We met on March 29th, at the National Office. The meeting was cordial and friendly. Because Blair Redlin could not attend due to family commitments, we invited Andrew Huculak, Chapter Rep from Saskatchewan to attend, given his substantial expertise on pensions.
We talked with Mark and Charles about the urgency of resolving indexing. Andrew talked about how the lack of indexing affected his family, and how without indexing, how difficult it would have been for his father and mother to live on $400 per month throughout their retirement. Andrew also referred to documents from his CUPE retirement session in 2005 that indicated indexing was guaranteed—not so, he is finding out now.
As of today, the Ontario regulations have been finalized. The Parties will now await an analysis by Koskie Minsky, before negotiations proceed.
Because the CUPE Employees Pension Plan (CEPP) is registered in Ontario, the new regulations will impact our plan. The regulations will implement a new framework for defined benefit (DB) pension plans. The regulations will offer solvency relief under certain conditions, eliminate the special payments that CUPE has had to pay, and enable access to the surplus to fund indexing.
Now that the regulations are in place, CUPE and the unions will negotiate benefit improvements that access to the surplus will finance. Charles hinted that an ad hoc adjustment for current retirees would be possible, after the regulations are in place. We made the point that while an ad hoc adjustment is welcome, we advocate for a fund that will assure future retirees will have indexed pensions. This is an important opportunity to ensure that future retirees don’t have to fight for indexed pensions like we are having to do.
Prescription Drug Coverage for Quebec Retirees
We also discussed the drug coverage for Quebec retirees. When CUPE retirees in Quebec turn 65, they must pay a $663 premium and $20 monthly deductible for prescription drug coverage. That is almost $1,000 a year Quebec retirees over 65 must pay for prescriptions instead of being covered by Green Shield. Charles referred to this as ‘a Liberal tax’ that ensured all those over 65 in Quebec receive publicly funded prescription coverage. However, it passes the costs on to 65+ retirees, who are supposed to be covered by CUPE’s benefit plan. Charles committed to ask Marie-Andrée Bourgouin prepare a briefing note that would provide a cost breakdown. We will follow up with this.
More Division Conventions are coming up. Retirees are organizing for retirees to hand out leaflets and buttons to members attending. If you want more information please contact your CRA Chapter Rep (contact info on the website or email email@example.com).
On a sad note, Brother Ray Arsenault, former CRA President, has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Accordingly, Brother Arsenault has resigned from his role as retiree alternate on the Joint Board of Trustees for our plan. (Barry T is the retiree rep currently.) We expect a call for nominations to elect an alternate retiree rep on the JBT, to go out shortly from the JBT. I’m sure Ray would appreciate hearing from retirees who worked with him. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
CUPE and the unions bargained in early April, and dates have been set for July. We need to keep the pressure on! Indexing is a top priority for CSU bargaining. CSU members support indexing, and retirees will continue to show solidarity to resolve this issue for current and future retirees.