UPP Letter from the 4 Unions

Friday, October 19, 2018

To:  All members of CUPE, OSSTF, OPSEU, and Unifor working at the University of Guelph

From:  CUPE 1334, CUPE 3913, OSSTF/TARA District 35, OPSEU 231, UNIFOR 2003

We have a very important update to share with respect to the proposed new “Jointly Sponsored Pension Plan” (JSPP) known as the University Pension Plan or “UPP”.

As you may recall, all four of our unions took up an active negotiation (alongside several other unions/associations) with employers in the sector starting in 2014.  This project offered our members in the sector the possibility of a new, multi-employer plan that would offer a benefit and cost structure that was broadly similar to our current pension plans.  But, when a last-minute proposal was made (during a May, 2017 mediation session) that would downgrade the new plan’s early retirement provisions from a minimum age 60 to a minimum age 62 requirement for unreduced pensions, we did not agree – and we opposed the change.  We also had several important concerns about the proposed governance structure of the new plan, so when this was combined with this clearly inferior early retirement provision, it was a a deal breaker for all four of our unions.

However, the three faculty associations and the United Steelworkers (USW) did agree to this proposal, and from that point (in July 2017), the 4 unions have been excluded from the development of this proposed new UPP.  Instead, the work on this plan’s development has been in the hands of the three employers (U of T, Queen’s, and U of G), the three faculty associations, and USW.  Motivated by the concerns outlined above, and the threat by these three employers that the new plan might be imposed on our members without our agreement, the four unions have been actively opposing the introduction of this new plan and communicating our concerns – especially in regard to early retirement – to our members and to the broader campus communities.

This past week, an important change to the proposed UPP was announced. (Some of you may have received emails or other reports about this from the employer).  The highly problematic minimum age 62 requirement for an unreduced early retirement was changed back to the more reasonable minimum age 60 that had been on the table up until May 2017.  Two other changes were agreed.  First, the benefit formula and its “integration” with CPP covered earnings was modified such that the 1.6% benefit formula will, in 2025, be applied to the new, higher level of earnings (estimated to reach $79,400 in 2025) that will from then on be covered by the enhanced CPP benefit.  Second, a slight increase in the contribution rates – from 9.1%/11.3% below and above the CPP earnings limit up to 9.2%/11.5% below and above that limit.  Notwithstanding the fact that some of our members currently have a better unreduced early retirement framework, this set of changes is an important and positive development, and we believe is a direct result of the hard work done by our members and local leadership.

However, all four of our unions continue to have concerns about the framework that has been developed for this new plan, particularly in relation to the plan’s governance, representation, and decision-making processes that were developed largely in our absence.  These issues are especially important for ensuring that this plan can be viable for our members – and all workers – at the many other universities not represented by the three employers involved to date in the UPP.  As previously, we remain open to a dialogue in relation to these issues.  We are hopeful that these discussions might result in a positive agreement on a pension plan that all of our unions will feel comfortable recommending to our members.

Thank you, again, for your support in this important process.  Further updates to follow.