The fight for retirement security remains a top priority for CUPE New Brunswick. CUPE National and CUPE locals 946, 963, 1190, 1418, 1866, 1251, 2745, 3339 and 5026 continue to be added party plaintiffs to the constitutional challenge in PIPSC v. Province of New Brunswick; a case about upholding the Charter-protected right to free collective bargaining.
When Blaine Higgs was Finance Minister under Alward, he transformed the defined-benefit pension plan for thousands of public front-line workers into a more volatile and riskier “shared risk” plan. “The imposition of the shared risk plan means members pay more in contributions at a higher retirement age. On top of that, there is a loss of guaranteed indexing and a reduction in base pension amounts,” denounces Steve Drost, President of CUPE NB.
“The legislation unilaterally converted existing defined-benefit plans, and worst of all, it prohibited the union from trying to negotiate improvements through collective bargaining,” he added.
CUPE NB notes how this pension plan model shifted the risk of bearing financial market volatility almost entirely onto plan members and eliminated the promise that our earned pensions can’t be retroactively reduced. “By imposing this on Locals, we firmly believe the Government of New Brunswick has violated our right to free collective bargaining, and we will continue to pursue justice for our affected members,” said Drost.
“In addition to the PIPSC legal challenge, we will continue to support CUPE 1253, CUPE 2745 and the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Homes, whose defined benefit pension plans have been systematically underfunded by the Government of New Brunswick,” said Drost.
After a career in public service, CUPE members in all sectors can unfortunately only expect a very modest pension in retirement. “We know that having an adequate and secure workplace pension plan is what separates seniors with financial security from those experiencing poverty. Whether in the courts or in the streets, CUPE will always fight for workers to have a secure, adequate and predictable retirement income,” concluded Drost.