Warning message

Please note that this page is from our archives. There may be more up-to-date content about this topic on our website. Use our search engine to find out.
Imagine giving your hard-earned wages to employers, with instructions to do anything they want with the money for the rest of your working life? For most CUPE members with employer-controlled pension plans, it’s not difficult. It’s what happens every pay cheque. “Pensions are workers’ deferred wages,” explained CUPE researcher Raymond Léger at a pension forum on October 26 – the opening evening of convention. “We need to make the control of these ‘wages’ a bargaining priority,” he told the standing room-only crowd. Employer-controlled pension plans aren’t in workers’ interests, Léger said. “Pension surpluses should be used to improve benefits for members – after all it’s our money.” But employer-controlled plans are using surpluses to reduce their contributions to the plan – known as a “contribution holiday.” “There is room for improvements in all of our plans – and the way to achieve those improvements is at the bargaining table,” he said. Léger encouraged delegates to mobilize their members around specific pension plan goals. “We want ‘control’, but we also need to establish goals concerning benefit levels, indexing and socially responsible investments.” Although some members worry about the viability of jointly-controlled pension plans, Léger said the most ‘vulnerable’ plans are the ones entirely controlled by employers. CUPE pension activist Maria Wahl, who joined Léger on the pension panel, knows first-hand the importance of a jointly-trusted pension plan. Wahl, a CUPE trustee on the BC municipal plan, successfully prevented her pension plan from pursuing investments in public private partnerships, which targeted municipal services. “We didn’t want to support P3 projects that target our members’ jobs – the very people contributing to the plan,” she told delegates. Beth Smillie