Before a presentation by CUPE researcher Mark Janson on the most persistent pension myths, Paul Moist, national president of CUPE, was recognized for his leadership on pension issues.
“There isn’t much more important issue to our members,” said Moist, who thanked CUPE staff and activists he’s worked with on pension issues, such as the campaign to expand the Canada Pension Plan. “We can’t drop the ball on expanding the CPP for all Canadians.”
The forum continued with a lively panel discussion on CUPE success stories of defending defined benefit plans. Heather Corkum, president of CUPE 1431, told the forum how Halifax water workers successfully fought back against pension concessions during an eight-week lockout.
“We showed our members that the sky was not falling with our pension,” said Corkum. “It’s what motivated them to stick to their guns.”
Marc Ranger, assistant regional director for CUPE Quebec, and Marle Roberts, division president for CUPE Alberta, shared other strategies CUPE members used to push back against attacks from their respective provincial governments.
“Pensions can be complicated, so getting clear information to members and the public is key,” said Roberts. “Dispelling the myths about public sector pensions helped get the public on our side.”
Lawyer Murray Gold, who’s represented CUPE in many pension fights, added that pensions are now political, so CUPE needs allies and the public on side to defend plans.