HALIFAX – As the Halifax Water Board of Commissioners meets today to discuss CUPE Locals 227 and 1431’s latest offer, the union has a strong message to give them: Choose fairness to the pension plan members and accountability to the ratepayers over the personal greed of a few senior managers.
“We sense that negotiations are being driven by senior managers wanting to protect their own pensions,” Local 1431 President Heather Corkum said. “The challenge of having union members, non-union workers, and senior management all in the same pension plan is that the decision-makers are in a conflict of interest.”
“CUPE wants to see a healthy pension plan that’s fair to all members,” Local 227 President Dave Dort said. “That means sacrifices by those at the bottom as well as those at the top. The problem is that the top earners don’t want to share the pain.”
On June 25, CUPE tabled a proposal that protects the current pension benefits by increasing contributions a small amount. It would also put a temporary freeze on the cap of maximum pensionable earnings, that will apply to a very few employees earning $141,000 per year or more.
“We believe that the Board of Commissioners gave the employers a mandate that would not allow them to accept the freeze on a cap, even though it is exactly the same proposal that the HRM pension board has recently recommended,” Corkum said. “To refuse to bargain in order to protect just seven senior managers is a slap in the face to all ratepayers and to all of the other pension plan members, union and non-union alike.”
“It’s time for the Board to give a new mandate,” Dort said. “Protect Halifax Water’s ratepayers and this pension plan rather than the few individuals who are already the best off of all the plan’s members.”
“To Mayor Savage and the rest of the Board members, we say: We’re ready to come back to the bargaining table if you’re ready to work with us to protect this pension plan for all,” Corkum said.