TORONTO, Oct. 23, 2012 /CNW/ - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has reached an agreement with the Government of Ontario to maintain joint control of pension plans and ensure their viability over the coming years.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said that this is a major victory over what was sure to be an all-out attack on retirement security for thousands of public sector workers.
"Not only have we maintained joint sponsorship of our pension plans, but we have also put mechanisms in place that will make sure these plans remain funded and even allow for expansion and portability," Thomas said. "We recognize the financial difficulties the government is facing. However, our goal all along was to allow our members control of the pensions that they themselves have paid for year after year."
Under the terms of agreement, there will be no contribution increases for the employer until December 30, 2017. Any plan that experiences a new funding shortfall during the five-year period would be required to reduce future benefits, up to a limit, before further increasing employer contributions. Any benefit reductions necessary during that period apply to future benefits only, and benefits would be restored when the plan is fully funded. Current retirees are not affected.
OPSEU Region 5 Vice-President Nancy Pridham, who was involved in the negotiations along with Region 2 Vice-President Mike Grimaldi, said the solidarity between the representatives of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Pension Plan (OPT), the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) and the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Pension Plan was integral to the agreement.
"We stuck together and sent a clear message that we were going to maintain joint control of our plans and have a real voice in how the plans are managed," Pridham said. "We achieved that, and also thwarted the possibility of the plans being merged into one big pool which would have been a disservice to the members."
Thomas thanks all the members who took action to tell the government to back off taking complete control of their pensions. "Demonstrations, along with letters, e-mails and phone calls to MPPs helped turn the tide against the initial government proposals," Thomas said. "Our members stepped up and made the difference."
For further information:
Warren (Smokey) Thomas: 613-329-1931
Nancy Pridham: 416-407-4594
Mike Grimaldi: 289-213-3088