TORONTO, Sept. 29, 2014 /CNW/ - Groundbreaking agreements negotiated by
United Steelworkers (USW) members at two Ontario universities provide a
template for other public-sector employees to preserve defined-benefit
pension plans, the union says.
"Defined-benefit pension plans that workers have negotiated and paid for
over decades are under threat from employers and governments," says
Marty Warren, the USW's Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.
"Our union and our members recognize that we have to be proactive to
address this crucial issue," Warren says.
"We have come up with a forward-thinking approach that we think could be
a model for other university employees and public-sector workers."
Pension sustainability was a key issue confronting more than 8,000 USW
members as they negotiated new collective agreements this month at the
University of Toronto and the University of Guelph.
The deals include a process to ensure long-term sustainability of their
defined-benefit pension plans. The agreements envision a small increase
in employee contributions and a greater role for workers in the
governance of their pension plans.
"Over the last five years Ontario's Liberal government has increasingly
pressured university employees and other public-sector workers to fund
a greater share of their pension plans, while lowering employer
contributions. That's not a move to pension sustainability" notes
"Each Liberal budget since 2011 has set out the requirement for workers
to move to increase pension contributions," he says.
The potentially precedent-setting deals negotiated by the USW began with
a historic co-operation agreement between the Steelworkers and the
University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA). The USW and UTFA
decided to form a united front in their pension reform negotiations
with the university.
The USW and UTFA represent the large majority of employees covered by
the University of Toronto Pension Plan, which provides benefits to over
17,000 members, including 5,000 retirees. USW members also represent
the large majority of members in the University of Guelph Hourly
The new university agreements create joint working committees that will
examine pension sustainability options and present reports by June
2017. In particular, the committees will consider creating Jointly
Sponsored Pension Plans (JSPPs) - defined benefit plans in which
employers and members share responsibility for plan governance and
The existing pension system will continue over the next three years
until the joint working committees at each university submit their
respective reports. Proposed changes will have to be negotiated through
the collective bargaining process and will have to be ratified by union
The USW believes this new approach could lead to the creation of a
university sector-specific, multi-employer pension plan, covering other
universities and their employees.
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director, 416-243-8792
Alex D. McKinnon, USW Research Director, 416-544-5981, 519-651-9755, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, email@example.com